Give Okra a Try! 5 Spins on a Farmers' Market Classic

Okra is a signature Southern ingredient whether fried, pickled, or grilled. Savor this veggie with some of our favorite okra recipes.

Classic Fried Okra
Photo: Beth Dreiling HontzasPhoto: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

1 lb. fresh okra
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
Vegetable oil
1/4 cup bacon drippings

Cut off and discard tip and stem ends from okra; cut okra into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stir into buttermilk; cover and chill 45 minutes.

Combine cornmeal and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Remove okra from buttermilk with a slotted spoon, and discard buttermilk. Dredge okra, in batches, in the cornmeal mixture.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet; add bacon drippings, and heat to 375°. Fry okra, in batches, 4 minutes or until golden; drain on paper towels.

Related: Conquer Your Fear of Frying

Okra-and-Corn Maque Choux
Photo: Jennifer DavickPhoto: Jennifer Davick

1/4 lb. spicy smoked sausage, diced
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fresh corn kernels
1 cup sliced fresh okra
1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomato (1/2 lb.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sauté sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until browned. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add corn, okra, and tomato; cook, stirring often, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Related: 10 So-Easy Pasta Salad Recipes

Okra Rellenos

4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
1 lb. fresh okra (4-inch-long pods)
1 cup self-rising flour
1/3 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dark beer
Corn oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut Monterey Jack cheese into 3- x 1/4- x 1/4-inch sticks.

Cut a lengthwise slit in each okra pod, cutting to but not through ends; push seeds aside. Stuff pods with cheese sticks, and set aside.

Combine flour and cornmeal in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

Stir together egg, buttermilk, and beer; add to dry ingredients, stirring until smooth.

Pour oil to depth of 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°. Dip stuffed okra in batter, coating well; fry, a few at a time, in hot oil until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt; serve immediately with salsa.

Related: 6 Ways with Green Tomatoes

Pickled Okra and Shrimp Salad
Photo: Beth Dreiling HontzasPhoto: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

1 (3-oz.) package boil-in-bag shrimp-and-crab boil
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined, medium-size raw shrimp (3 1/40 count)
1/2 cup sliced sweet-hot pickled okra
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. minced red onion
1/2 tsp. lime zest
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
3 large avocados, sliced

Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan; add crab boil, and cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp; cover, and remove from heat, and let stand 10 minute or just until shrimp turn pink. Drain and cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine picked okra, diced pimiento, and next 6 ingredients. Add shrimp, and serve immediately with avocado slices, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Related: 44 Southern-Style Shrimp Recipes

Okra Creole

3 bacon slices
1 (16-oz.) package frozen sliced okra
1 (14.5-oz.) can chopped tomatoes
1 cup frozen onion seasoning blend
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Creole seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
Hot cooked rice (optional)

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Cook okra and next 6 ingredients in hot drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Top with crumbled bacon. Serve over rice, if desired.

More from Southern Living
100 Ways to Cook Southern
Quick-Fix Suppers & Tips for Weeknight Meals
What To Do with Your Farmers' Market Finds
"Like" Us on Facebook