Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Healthy Oven Fried Okra

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Along with french fries, fried okra is a favorite side dish at our homestead. If you've never fried okra in coconut oil, then you're missing something fabulous!! Frying in coconut oil is a great way to have that fried treat, but in a healthy way. Well, one day that okra craving hit and we were out of coconut oil. What to do? Not long ago we learned that baked fries can be awesome and we wondered if there might be a way to get the same great results with baked okra.

After a little online searching, sure enough there is! Here are the steps that have worked the best for us...

  • 16 oz. bag of frozen okra
  • 2-4 tablespoons of corn meal
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (we also like a tad of cayenne pepper for a kick)

1. Add one 16 oz. bag of frozen okra to a ziploc bag with few pinches of salt
Let the bag sit for about 10-30 minutes (If you don't have the time to wait, I've let the bag sit for a minimum of 10 minutes with good results). This gives the salt time to extract the juices from the okra.

2. Add 2-4 tablespoons of corn meal, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and spices of your choosing
Add the olive oil first, then the corn meal with the spices on top. Zip it closed and "flip" the bag over again and again until the okra if fully coated. If you see that the okra isn't coated enough to your liking, then add more cornmeal.

We use 4 tablespoons, but it really just depends on your coating preference. (We also used self-rising corn meal because that's what we had in the pantry. Since salt is already in the self-rising corn meal, we didn't add more during the spice stage. If you're using plain corn meal, then you'll want to add salt to taste).

TIP: Different recipes suggested using oil spray to coat the okra before baking to help create that crispy crust. We don't use canned sprays, but found that adding olive oil in the bag with the cornmeal and spices did the trick!

3. Let the coated okra rest for 10-30 minutes
I usually let it rest for 20 minutes, but have also had great success with a 10 minute set. You just want to give enough time for the juices in the okra and the coating to meld so the coating won't fall off. We used to dip okra in eggs or soaked flaxseed meal before dipping the okra into the corn meal. This new "bag method" saves so much time and you're using less items to make the same great treat!!

4. Pour Okra onto a Baking Sheet
You can grease the sheet if you like, but we never have and the okra comes right off. (Much like our oven baked fries, sometimes the okra may need a little coaxing, but then they pop right up.)

5. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes
After 30 minutes you'll have the most delicious baked okra! It's not as crunchy as okra fried in coconut oil, but it's darn close. We haven't gone back to frying yet!

The summer isn't quite the same without having at least one meal of tomato sandwiches, corn on the cob, fried okra and watermelon. There are those moments when the okra and french fry cravings hit at the same time, so we've been known to bake a pan filled with half fries and half okra! Each recipe calls for the same baking time and temperature so it makes the perfect batch on those days when you just can't decide (; Enjoy!

With Gratitude,

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