Back when I was a fresh-faced 22-year-old, I did Teach For America. One of the most defining experiences of the two year program was the Summer Institute, which is essentially a five-week boot camp that is designed to get new TFAers ready to teach in their own classrooms. While there are several TFA Institutes catering to different regions around the country, my colleagues from Charlotte and I ended up at Institute in the Mississippi Delta. We stayed at Delta State University in Cleveland. You know, the OTHER Cleveland - the one in Mississippi. I have so many stories about the Mississippi Delta from these five weeks, but that is a different post for another day.
I share all of this because Delta State has best college mascot in the United States. They are the Fighting Okra.#feartheokra I'm not joking, that's their hashtag. I ate more okra that summer than in my entire life, mostly fried because we were in Mississippi. However, they pickled okra as well. I'm pretty sure pickled okra tops 100% of the salads in Cleveland, Mississippi, and conveniently, their local watering hole, The Pickled Okra, is named after it.
Okay, I'll finally get onto sharing a new-to-me way to prepare okra!
I talk way too much about our CSA, but it’s changed my life. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, and it’s saved dinnertime more than once. I could go on… You can read more here.
A couple of weeks ago, we received okra in our CSA. I was terrified.#feartheokra I put it in the fridge and hoped Jay wouldn’t notice it. I didn’t speak of it until we were running a low on produce, AND it was the only green thing left in our fridge, AND we needed a healthy side for dinner.
While I like okra, I'm mostly accustomed to the fried variety. I’ve never fried anything, so I figured that wasn’t the best bet. I’ve recently attended a series of cooking classes, and the instructor always says to roast vegetables on 425 with olive oil, salt, and pepper if you don’t know what to do with them. Alrighty then, the plan was to roast it.
One evening last week, I headed out to play a tennis match and left Jay with instructors for making dinner in my absence. Roast the okra, I said. I came home to find that the crazy man put it in a cast iron skillet on the GRILL. I was either really hungry, or it was the best okra I’ve ever had.
There's not really a recipe. All you need to do is cut it into bite-sized pieces, and toss it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Throw it into a cast iron skillet and place on the grill for about 20-25 minutes. Super easy, and I don't have to heat up my oven! We’ve made it a few times since then, and it may be my new favorite vegetable. Thanks, Jay!