Celebrating okra, a versatile vegetable


September 06, 2006|By Donna Pierce | Donna Pierce,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

A hot summer spells good news for okra. Although the harvest arrived later than usual this year, the pods recently appeared in farmers' markets.

Those of us who love the vegetable celebrated by pulling out skillets and saucepans to begin cooking immediately.

Okra is delicious fried in a light cornmeal batter. But that is just the beginning for true okra fans. During the short time it's fresh and available, we've been known to serve it frequently in a variety of dishes that may include stews, soups and gumbos.

Donna Pierce writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.

Menu suggestion

Late-harvest okra with shrimp

Steamed white rice

Papaya-and-cucumber salad

French bread

Pineapple sherbet

Late-Harvest Okra With Shrimp

Serves 4 -- Total time: 39 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound small okra, trimmed, thinly sliced

3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon each or to taste: red-pepper flakes, salt

freshly ground pepper

1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined

Heat the oil and butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; add the bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in the okra; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, parsley, thyme, pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a boil; decrease heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in shrimp; cook, stirring occasionally, just until shrimp turn pink, 3 minutes.

Per serving: 292 calories, 12 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 180 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrate, 28 grams protein, 575 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber

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