I’m pretty sure this doesn’t count as a recipe. Maybe it’s a technique, if you’re feeling generous. If you’re not feeling generous, you could say that I’m phoning this one in, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.
My whole brood started to school last week, which ought to have freed me up to prepare, record, and write about elaborate gourmet meals…but didn’t. What it did was create a deep sense of disequilibrium in me. Twelve hours a week with no kids at home when I have, for all practical purposes, not spent more than an hour alone in nearly 8 years…Well, I’ve been a little bit scattered.
But not too scattered to document the preparation of one of our favorite summer vegetable side dishes. It’s an unlikely one. It doesn’t involve beefy August tomatoes or steamed white half-runners (Kentuckians, represent!) or freshly shucked corn so sweet and crisp it requires no butter. It involves yet another humble ingredient, this one elevated so simply and quickly that it’s not even a real recipe!
Last week, I made a case for the power of the peely, subterranean onion, and this week, I hope to redeem for you the slime bomb of the vegetable kingdom: okra.
I realize I’m an outlier in my affection for it, but that’s only because so few people have ever prepared it. They’ve eaten it deep-fried at restaurants or, maybe, in a goopy gumbo. But, seriously, it’s un-slimy, toasty, salty and crunchy (thanks to the exploding little seeds) when roasted in a super-hot oven with just a teeny bit of olive oil and a good dash of salt. I like to spritz it with some fresh lemon juice when it’s still hot, but, to be honest, I put lemon juice on virtually everything, so you can skip that part if you want.
This is also a great way to prepare just about any veggie that doesn’t benefit from steaming (like brussels sprouts) and even some that do (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
So go ahead and roast your whatever. Who knows what you’ll elevate…
1. Heat your oven to 500 degrees.
2. Chop your okra thinly.
3. In a big baking dish, toss them with enough olive oil to coat them lightly. The dish needs to be big enough to allow them to rest in a single layer.
4. Then sprinkle them with more coarse salt than you think they’ll need.
5. Roast them in your preheated oven until they smell toasty and wonderful. Your nose will know when they’re ready. Then yank them out. (It usually takes about 7 minutes in my oven.)
6. Spritz them with lemon juice if you’re an acid-lover. And serve alongside whatever else you’ve got.