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Summertime Taste of the South

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


Summer okra has finally arrived at the ​fabulous Old Colorado City Saturday morning farmer's market. For this, I am beyond grateful, since fried (sautéed) okra and fresh garden tomatoes bring back wonderful summer taste memories ​from my childhood near Martin,​Tennessee.


When the usually abundant juice from fresh garden tomatoes mix with crispy cornmeal okra, culinary magic happens. This is thought to be an amalgam of Creole and American Indian cultural influence, ​frequently referred to as Maque choux in New Orleans. 


​Fried okra, fresh sweet corn cut from the cob, cherry or regular tomatoes, green onions, baby squash, ​garlic, and jalapeno peppers (the last ​three ingredients are ​optional and included for our Southwestern readers, and because ​our team represents regional diversity and usually prefers a bit of heat ​for extra layers of flavors with our summer fresh vegetables).

 

​All of these nutrient-dense vegetables are usually August-abundant in farmer's markets and in many backyard gardens. We served this colorful vegetable medley over a small scoop of protein-rich quinoa (one-half cup includes 12 grams of protein).


Approximate ingredients for six generous servings


3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 or 3 lbs. okra pods, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces

olive oil or grapeseed oil for sautéing

fresh corn kernels cut from about 3 ears of corn

​baby squash cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces, or not, your preference

1 or 2 chopped small jalapenos

3 generous cups of juicy cherry tomatoes, halved, or garden tomatoes cut into bite size pieces

2 or 3 green onions chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped


Directions


Mix cornmeal and cayenne in small bowl. Dip small amounts of okra pieces in buttermilk and cornmeal and toss lightly. Drop into sieve and shake off excess cornmeal.


Heat small amount of cooking oil in ​large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add okra and sauté until coating is golden brown, stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Transfer okra to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Wipe out skillet and add a small amount of ​clean oil over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapenos, corn, tomatoes, and squash ​and sauté until squash is crisp tender, about five minutes. Add sautéed okra, ​​green onions for about one minute. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Okra nutritional value


Okra is a nutritional powerhouse used through history for both medicinal and culinary purposes. It dates back more than 3,500 years, with many people enjoying the health benefits today. It's high in vitamins C, K, and folate, as well as calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, beta carotene, lutein, and some zeaxanthin, ​and ​a superior fiber that helps with digestion and stabilizes blood sugar by helping to control the rate at which sugar is absorbed.


Eat well and enjoy!


Ellen Troyer, with David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff