Okra is a favorite among southerners and, when cooked right, is quick to win over those who are not as familiar with the vegetable! Whether you fry, grill, roast, or pickle it, the wide variety of uses and unique taste of okra makes it the perfect main dish or side to any meal this summer. You can find okra this week being sold by Gaining Ground Farm (River Arts District and North Asheville markets), New Roots Market Garden (West and North Asheville markets), Ten Mile Farm (Black Mountain and Asheville City markets) and Smallholding Farm (East Asheville Tailgate Market).
A classic way to cook okra is, of course, by frying it! While it may seem simple enough, it doesn’t hurt to have a recipe to follow in order to perfect the crunchy, golden brown goodness that is fried okra. After making this recipe once, you’ll want to have fried okra with every meal! Start by slicing 10 okra pods into one-fourth-inch-thick slices. Beat one large egg, then soak okra in the egg for five to ten minutes. While your okra is soaking, mix together one cup of cornmeal, one teaspoon of salt, and one teaspoon of pepper in a bowl. Remove okra from the egg and dredge in the cornmeal mixture until evenly coated. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then carefully place in your okra. Stir continuously, lowering heat after a few minutes, cooking until golden brown. Transfer okra from the skillet to a paper towel and drain any excess oil. Enjoy by itself or with your sauce of choice!
If you’re sensitive to fried foods or looking for a healthier way to cook with okra, try fixing up a delicious okra succotash! This easy dish uses the seasonal veggies of the summer to make a colorful side that won’t disappoint. Start by heating vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add one sliced red onion to your pan and sauté until translucent. To the same pan, add three cups of chopped okra, two cups of halved cherry tomatoes, and two cups of fresh corn kernels cut off the cob. Season with salt and pepper and any other herbs or spices you want. Cover the pan and stir ingredients occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to blister. If you’re not a fan of the sometimes slimy consistency of okra when cooked, the acidity of the tomatoes does a great job of making the texture a little more palatable. You can enjoy this succotash by itself, or use it as the stuffing in a tortilla!
Corn needed for this recipe is being sold by Creasman Farms (North Asheville, Black Mountain, and Asheville City markets), Gibson Berry Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market), and Lee’s One Fortune Farm (West Asheville, East Asheville, River Arts District, Black Mountain, and Asheville City markets). Lots of vendors are beginning to bring onion varieties to market as well, including Full Sun Farm and Flying Cloud Farm at both North and River Arts District markets.
At farmers markets now you’ll also find peaches, plums, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, cucumbers, garlic, beans, new potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets, leafy greens, and much more. Markets are stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.