What's up at
The only real success of my garden this summer was okra. Right now 4 or 5 of these giant tree like plants are laying horizontal against the grass criss crossing my two small terraced beds post storm.
I was delighted with the harvest which all told was at least ten of these 1 gallon buckets. And it could have been much more if I had planted them earlier and further apart.
Okra has been growing in my heart sneaking its way to the top of my summer food loves ever since my friend Laura sautéed it with greens and served it to me about 10 years ago on a summer evening at a picnic table in her Oakland back yard.
At first I was offended. Who eats okra and what if I hate it? This is the worst kind of scenario for a picky eater and people pleaser like myself. I sat down to eat and I tried it. Like all new foods it took a while for me to try on the taste.
But I found myself returning again and again for another bite of okra in my greens. I found it sweet and caramelized and the perfect textural complement to leaves of chewy kale just soft enough to eat.
As weeks, months and even years passed I would crave it's flavor, texture and summeriness. I kept remembering that meal and wanting to re-create it. I'd never even bought okra before much less cooked it. I was fairly intimidated. But one day I found the most gorgeous little red okra piled up in a basket at the stand of my favorite farm at the farmer's market. And I got some.
8 years later here we are with 10+ gallons of okra and not enough left to freeze for winter. I'd never even seen an okra plant before last year's garden! But I'm of the philosophy: when in the South grow okra. So grow okra I did!
When you have 10 gallons of okra it becomes a staple like the zucchini of the West Coast.
Okra lends itself to many meals and I find myself showing up with it in bags to give away at summer and fall gatherings.
When I immerse myself deeply into something it becomes philosophical in nature. I mull it over and think about every aspect of it. This summer okra has been my meditation.
everything I've learned about okra gardening
my favorite ways to enjoy okra--tip always make extra it goes fast!
okra and tomatoes
This is very adaptable. I've made it with varied ingredients including store bought tomato sauce instead of tomatoes. It is deeply satisfying and is great over pasta but truly works well all on its own. My kids devour this.
1/2 head cauliflower
1/2-1 medium yellow onion
2-8 cloves of garlic depending on your taste
2 large tomatoes or 1-2 cups tomato sauce
1 medium zucchini
eggplant would also go well in this, sauteed separately and added in like the okra
10+ okra with tips and stems removed and sliced diagonally
Fresh basil if you pulled it from the garden use anything that's not woody including flowers
Soy Sauce or Braggs Aminos
Toss sliced onion into a hot 12 inch cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat and sauté till softening. While its cooking cut the cauliflower into small bite size pieces and add to the onion making enough room on the cutting board to continue your task. Continue to sauté letting the cauliflower soften. And keep cutting first the zucchini and add to the pan.
In a separate pan over medium to medium hight heat sauté okra in olive oil. Stir occasionally. Its done when one or more sides of the okra is nice and brown and it has changed color from bright green to a deeper softer green.
After the cauliflower is halfway cooked add the garlic, and tomatoes or sauce. Don't add so much sauce but it becomes soupy. Add just enough to flavor and moisten for a low simmer. You want this to simmer slowly allowing all the flavors and juices to come together and the cauliflower to become tender. You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to make it moist enough to simmer. It takes 10-15 minutes. While it is simmering add 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce or braggs aminos. This is a totally counterintuitive move but it makes this meal so savory so delicious and so flavorful that you will not likely forget it.
After the cauliflower is mostly cooked add in the okra and basil. I like to add extra olive oil at this point and check for salt. You want this to burst with flavor. And salt is a magnifier so use it to make this meal irresistible! The extra olive oil will make it luxuriously smooth and appealing to your mouth.
I like this straight out of the bowl or with carbs like bread or pasta. It is my summer meal of 2015. I do hope you enjoy it and please share your stories and pictures when you try on Twitter or Instagram or by commenting here.
PS find me on Instagram @lucidolight on Twitter @ourdailykraut and on Facebook Janelle Allyn Lucido Conate!
Welcome! I'm Janelle. This is a place of inspiration about real everyday food life. I want to know how I can serve you!
Connect with me on Instagram @lucidolight or on twitter @ourdailykraut or find me on Facebook! Janelle Allyn Lucido Conate