Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Boiled Buttered Okra - So Good and Good For You

Okra, so tender and fresh and so very nutritional, is one of my favorite vegetables. Of course, like any Southern girl, I love it pan fried in cornmeal or deep fried in a fritter batter. But, my very favorite way to cook and eat okra is boiled in salted water and then simmered in butter.
Okra was brought to North America, especially the south, during the days of slave trade. The Swahili name for okra is gumbo, laying way for many of those delicious Louisiana and Mississippi Gumbo recipes. It is one of the most nutritional vegetables available. It has a multitude of nutrients that promote healthy pregnancy. Okra is full of Folic Acid, an essential element for a growing fetus, Vitamin B and Vitamin C. A half cup of okra has only 25 calories, before I add the butter, and 2 grams of fiber.
When preparing okra to boil, very carefully trim the stem end of the okra with a paring knife. Trim off the hard edge, where the stem is attached to the pod. But, do not cut too deeply, as this will cause the okra to ease out of the pod as it gently boils. This will surely end in a slimy pot of okra. We don't mind a little slime at my house, but we do want the pod of okra to remain intact.
Place a dozen to two dozen pods of trimmed okra into a pot of salted water. Bring the pot to a rolling boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes. My definition of simmer is a very slow boil with a few bubbles rising in the pot. Add the amount of butter that you desire - from a few tablespoons to 1/2 cup. The amount of butter that you use depends on the number of okra that you are cooking, your personal preference, and your dietary concerns. When dinner is served, place the okra and a little of the butter sauce in a vegetable bowl. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and enjoy.  All of my children grew up eating boiled okra. Of course, they preferred fried, but eating okra was never a fight.

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