Roasted Okra Croutons
Most of you know by now that my husband and I are members of a CSA. We absolutely love the variety of delicious, fresh produce that we get in our weekly share, however we sometimes have to get really creative if an, ehem, overabundance of a certain vegetable occurs.
Okra. It just loooooves the soil and growing conditions in Alabama. It might as well be our state vegetable (is there such a thing as a state vegetable…) and I believe we are on week #8 of said state vegetable’s inclusion in our CSA share. Now don’t get me wrong. I love okra, I really do but my creativity starts to wane after several weekly infusions of it. Taking a cue from Bubba of Forrest Gump, we’ve made fried okra, okra and tomatoes, okra curry, several different kinds of gumbo, vegetable soup with okra, grilled okra, pickled okra…I could go on.
Now fried okra is the stand-out favorite for most and I’ve consumed some excellent (and not-so-excellent) versions before but we try to eat fairly healthy around the Endless Appetite household so rather than frying myself and my waistline into oblivion, we had to come up with a healthful solution to our okra overabundance–enter roasted okra! This stuff is the bomb! It really is. I can handle eating it once a week and boy do we! It scratches that crunchy, salty itch that I experience too often. I would sit down and eat a bowl of it like popcorn! Our favorite thing to do with these glorious, crispy critters is to sprinkle them on top of salads much like croutons:
End of the Summer Salad with Roasted Okra Croutons
If you want to just make the okra for a side dish, sans salad, I would double the recipe and use two cookie sheets so the okra will roast instead of steam. This salad is my go-to salad for the summer/early fall. Sometimes I throw in toasted cubes of bread or cornbread, calamata olives, and roasted red peppers for a quick panzanella. I’ve included directions on how to make the dressing vegan/dairy free as well which I often do and enjoy just as much. This dressing is great on numerous salads, as a dressing for slaw or drizzled over fried fish or fritters.
For the Okra:
1 pound of okra, sliced into about 1/3″ slices
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Toss the okra in a bowl with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread evenly on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Be sure you don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir and cook 10-12 more minutes until brown and crisp.
1/2 cup of buttermilk or almond milk mixed with 2 teaspoons of lemon
1/2 cup of mayonnaise or Veganaise
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon of wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 small clove of garlic minced into a paste
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley or dill (or both!)
2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh chives
pinch of pepper
Whisk together all ingredients. Will last in the fridge for a week. Makes a little more than a cup.
To assemble the salad:
1 English cucumber, quartered and cut into 1″ chunks
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon of sherry vinegar (wine vinegar will work too)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of torn basil
salt and pepper to taste
prepared chive dressing
Toss cucumber, tomatoes, onion, vinegar, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Spoon onto individual plates. Drizzle with chive dressing and sprinkle over okra.