Two of my favorite vegetables are coming on strong right now: green beans and okra. I’m also getting peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and, yes, the cucumber bonanza continues. Now I happen to think okra is a much-maligned vegetable. It has a delicate fresh flavor and I prefer to think of it as having a creamy, rather than slimy texture. Last weekend I added it to a pasta dish that included green beans, carrots, squash and shrimp in a wine sauce. It added a nice bit of thickening to the sauce, which is one of the things it’s known for.
I have also pickled okra, but I like to slice it, toss it in flour and cornmeal and sauté it like my paternal grandmother did. Every time I make it that way, I think of her farm kitchen and its loaded table, so I suppose in that way it’s a comfort food for me. I also like it mixed with other summer vegetables, like beans, squash, and tomatoes. For those of you who simply don’t like the texture of it, there is one more recipe for you: sauté onions in oil until they begin to carmelize; add okra slices and tomatoes and continue cooking, adding water if necessary until the tomatoes are cooked down and the whole thing has a—yes—creamy texture. It’s a bit like recipes for Greek green beans, just with okra. Do try it. It may become your summer comfort food.