Roasted okra is a simpler (and healthier) alternative to traditional fried okra.
When I’m craving a salty snack, but want to avoid reaching for the potato chips, I make oven roasted okra. These little green nuggets are so good, that I often eat them off the baking tray as soon as they come out of the oven! They have this toasty/nutty flavour that I really enjoy, and they are much easier to make than traditional breaded and deep-fried okra.
The texture of roasted okra is a bit weird. After baking for about 20 minutes, they are usually soft with golden brown crispy bits where the okra made contact with the pan. I find that the more you cook them, the crispier they get, but they also shrink down quite a bit. You may want to play around with the cooking time until you find what works best for you. Personally, I don’t mind having a combination of soft and crispy bits – it makes the okra more interesting to eat! I’ve also found that they are best eaten hot, because they can become soggy when they get cold.
I like to flavour my roasted okra with garlic powder, but you could add cumin or cayenne pepper, or just keep it simple with salt and pepper. For the oil, you can pretty much use whatever you have on hand. I usually use light olive oil because that’s what I keep on my kitchen counter, but vegetable oil or canola would work just as well.
It is really important that you dry the okra carefully after washing, or they won’t roast properly. Excess water can lead to steaming, so be sure to towel off your okra or give them a spin in a salad spinner before you roast them.
You could roast these whole if you wanted to, but I prefer cutting them into small pieces so there is more surface area to get crispy. I find that turning them a few times during the cooking process also helps them to brown more evenly. Fresh okra tends to cook quickly and evenly, but if your okra is stale you will have a much tougher time getting it the pieces to crisp up properly.
When you’re making oven roasted okra, you need to keep an eye on them. Don’t walk away from the oven! There’s a fine line between the earthy toasted flavour that comes with a nice golden brown colour, and the horrible bitterness that comes with a black colour. Watch your okra change colour as they roast, and pull them out before they’re too far gone.
My last recommendation would be to line the pan with parchment or tin foil. Just don’t use wax paper, as it can ruin your baking sheets. If you’re making the full recipe below with 1lb of okra, you will need two baking sheets. Put one sheet on a top shelf, the other on the bottom, then switch halfway through cooking.
I enjoy eating okra in general, so if you really dislike this vegetable than this recipe may not change your opinion. But the roasting process does takes away the sliminess that okra often has, so if that’s your reason for avoiding okra then you might want to give this recipe a shot!
- 1 lb okra
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- black pepper , to taste
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Wash the okra under running water, then dry throughly.
- Remove the top and bottom stems from the okra, then cut them into half-inch pieces.
- Add the okra pieces to a large bowl, and drizzle with the oil. Add salt and garlic powder, then stir.
- Arrange the okra in a single layer on 2 parchment lined baking trays, and bake for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for doneness. If the pieces are still soggy, put them back for an additional 5-10 minutes. Be sure to move the pieces around frequently so the okra browns on all sides.
- The okra will be a dark green/brown colour, and will smell a bit nutty when it's cooked through. The edges should be a bit crisp and the middle should be tender.
- Serve immediately.
- The longer you leave the okra in the oven, the smaller and darker they will get so be careful not to overcook them.
- This dish it best when eaten hot, so make it at the last minute. Leftovers will not keep well.