Okra is a very polarizing food, and it's hard to start a blog post about it by saying anything else. Some claim it's "slimy," although I suspect that those who turn up their nose at okra might also happily eat raw oysters on the half shell, grilled eggplant, or at least kiwifruit or honeydew melon. Indeed, ever-present in lots of delicious favorites, so-called "slime" can be wonderful.
But I'll admit, everyone prefers a different degree of sliminess. If you're someone who hates all of the foods listed above, then maybe okra's just not for you. But I think most people are probably somewhere in the middle, enjoying some degree of sliminess in their food, but shutting down when it gets out of hand. If you're someone who likes slippery noodles and over easy fried eggs, but not okra, then I'm here to try to change your mind with one really small suggestion.
When roasting okra, you first need to decide how slimy you want it to be, and then you simply flip them in a certain direction, depending on your preference, and roast them at 475°F. If you just can't get enough slime, you'll roast them cut-side-down. But if you want to reduce the amount of slime, you'll roast them cut-side-up.
The little detail of flipping them really makes a huge difference in the final product, and while either is very tasty, different people will prefer a different result. I like a variety of different okra textures, so I usually roast them scattered around, some down and some up (as pictured). A few of them turn out completely gooey, and a few turn out a little crunchy, charred, and chewy, but all of them are perfect in their own way. Just remember to enjoy it right out of the oven if you're not a slime-fanatic; they will get slimier as they cool, especially if they're covered.
Now you know just about all you need to perfectly roast okra, but to justify including an actual recipe, I've thrown in a few more veggies and spices, as well as specific instructions for anyone new to roasting. Feel free to make the recipe as it's written (serve it to friends to try to win them over to this beautiful vegetable), switch up the other veggies for some of your favorites, or just leave out everything but the okra, which is all that really matters anyway.
Check out more delicious ways to cook okra:
Curried eggplant and okra from the Kitchenista Angela Davis
Vegetables in sao masalo, and maple-glazed roast wild okra from Ankiet Gulabani of Belly Over Mind
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
10 ounces okra, sliced in half lengthwise
A few tiny hot peppers or 1 sliced jalapeño or serrano
1/2 onion, sliced
10 whole garlic cloves
8 to 12 grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
- Preheat the oven to 475° F.
- Coat the halved okra, hot peppers, onion slices, garlic cloves, and tomatoes in the olive oil, salt, coriander, and cumin.
- Place on a sheet pan in one layer. If you want gooey, slimy okra, turn them all cut-side-down. If you want to minimize the sliminess, turn them all cut-side-up.
- Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until everything is slightly charred and tender.