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In Season: Okra

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Whether you're a CSA devotee, a farmers' market weekender or consider ketchup a veg, we'll bring you fresh inspiration for how to prepare our local produce.

This week's harvest: Okra

Hey, y'all. Are you hungry for some okra? Okra is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. There's no in between and the feeling is usually pretty fierce -- and it's all about  the mucilage, or "goo" factor. It's either a non-issue and the flavor and texture of the tender fuzzy pods with white interior seeds that burst as you bite into it turn you on...or you just can't get into it. It's cool. More for me.

They're also known as "lady fingers" outside the U.S. and they are a hardy veg that can handle heavy weather and weak soil. You'll find them in the traditional green and deep purple colors at the markets this summer. Try them both for a colorful kitchen experience. Okra is traditionally used as a soup thickener since it weeps it's slime when cooked. It's what gives gumbo it's great texture.

Here's some recipes to turn your basket of okra into a party on your plate. Give them a go.

​When is okra in season?
June through October.

Selecting, storage and preparation tips:
You'll want to search out the young, bright, short (no more than 4 inches), unblemished, tender and crisp okra. Otherwise, you're picking the old, long, fibrous, freckled, sticky ones - ick, don't do that. When choosing okra, you can feel if it gives you a slight bend when you handle it. If it feels super stiff, leave it alone.

You can snack on the raw pods while you drive home. Just be sure to leave enough to prepare one of the following recipes.

Don't wash your okra until right before you use it. Otherwise, it'll spoil early. Store in the fridge in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel and then loosely covered with a plastic bag.

Recipes:

Pan Roasted Corn and Okra
4 ingredients here and it looks like a million bucks.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Almond Crusted Okra & Chive Aioli
How gorgeous is this salad? Are you drooling all over your keyboard? I am.

Greek Braised Okra
Mop up the plate with your favorite loaf of crusty chewy bread.

Thai-style Okra Tempura
What a light and lovely version of fried okra with Asian flavors.

Caribbean Salt Cod and Okra Soup
Wouldn't this soup be even more amazing with coconut milk slipped in?

Classic Fried Okra
If none of the above recipes did it for you. Just eat it like this. Fried okra is the best. I'm also loving the blog where I found this recipe.

Spicy Pickled Okra
How great would one of these be in a Bloody Mary?

Jennifer Woods is a local food advocate with over 10 years working in the AZ food industry, and currently works for Crooked Sky Farms, a CSA produce farm based in South Phoenix.

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