Southern Fried Okra, SoCal Style!

| August 8, 2014 | Reply

Southern Fried Okra, SoCal Style! I planted okra seed in May, but it got overshadowed by squash leaves, so I bought nursery plants in late June and just yesterday harvested a handful of okra. Growing up in the South, we always had fresh-frozen okra in the freezer from my grandmother’s garden in Alabama. Mother would fry some up in cornmeal in bacon drippings. I didn’t fully appreciate fried okra until I started growing my own two years ago. Now, I just can’t get enough.

Southern Okra Classic, SoCal Style!-chopped veggies

Okra, tomatoes and peppers chopped

Yesterday’s handful of two-inch spears didn’t amount to a full serving, so I decided to “Go Green” and add some sweet Italian frying pepper Friariello Di Napoli (one of several varieties I am growing in containers) and three Michael Pollen tomatoes. I sliced it all up, dredged in white heirloom cornmeal from my friend Tim’s farm in Tennessee – (Watch “Preserving the Old Corn Growing Tradition” of “Late Bloomer”) – and fried it up for a late morning snack. Delicious!

Southern Okra Classic, SoCal Style-dredging

Dredging okra, tomatoes and peppers in white heirloom cornmeal

I was out of bacon drippings, so I updated the recipe (this is where the SoCal part comes in) with 100% pure Grapeseed Oil (I use this one, which carries my favorite label, Non-GMO Project Verified). I learned about grapeseed oil from my friend Valentina at Cooking on the Weekends. It adds a light, nutty flavor to fried foods, and it has 0g Trans Fat and only 1g Saturated Fat per serving of 1 tablespoon. We all need to be watching our fat calories, but do you really know what’s good and what’s bad fat? Here’s a great article to learn more.

Southern Fried Okra, SoCal Style!-dish

Southern Fried Okra, SoCal Style!

The only change I would make in future is to select an unripe green tomato (then you get two Southern classics in one dish!), as the ripe green tomatoes didn’t hold up in five minutes of cooking. Or, I could have tossed them in at the end. The sweet pepper and tomato add subtle flavors to the okra. If you like, add a little fresh Serrano or Jalapeno hot pepper to spice things up.


Southern Fried Okra, SoCal Style!

1 cup fresh Okra, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

3 small sweet frying Peppers, sliced, seeds removed

1-2 green Tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 cup organic white Cornmeal

1-2 tbl Grapeseed Oil (or Bacon Drippings or Lard)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare vegetables while oil is getting hot over medium-high heat.

Dredge vegetables in cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper.

Add to hot oil, and turn frequently to keep from burning, for about five to six minutes.

If using fresh tomato, add at the end, and cook two minutes.

Remove from heat with slotted spoon and drain on recycled paper towel.

Bear in mind that cornmeal will absorb the oil, so the more you use, the more you will eat!

Serve immediately!

Please let me know if you try it. Okra should be available in farmer’s markets now if you are not growing your own! Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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Category: Recipes, Urban Gardening, Vegetables, Warm Season

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