Food: Make skillet-roasted okra & shrimp salad (recipe)
SKILLET-ROASTED OKRA AND SHRIMP SALAD
1 pound peeled, large (26-30 count) raw shrimp, deveined
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pound fresh okra, rinsed and dried thoroughly
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon Balsamic or apple-cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
2 cups arugula
1. Place shrimp in small bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Combine well and set aside.
2. Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Cut okra pods in half, lengthwise. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet. Add okra, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes, and saute over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and saute 3 minutes or until skins begin to burst. Transfer okra mixture to a large bowl.
3. Add shrimp to skillet. Saute 2-3 minutes or just until the shrimp turns pink. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Stir in okra mixture, and saute for 1-2 minutes or until hot. Stir in the basil or parsley. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
4. Place Romaine and arugula into individual salad bowls or on a large serving platter. Spoon shrimp and okra mixture on top of lettuce. Serve with wedge of lemon. Serves 4.
The words “slimy,” “gelatinous” or “mushy” aren’t associated with very many vegetables … except when one is discussing okra. Okra was introduced to America via African slave ships and was commonly known as gumbo, which means okra in some African dialects. African captives planted and prepared okra dishes from their native land and combined them with vegetables that grew in America. Today, okra is as Southern as sweet tea, but it has spread around the United States and also prepared in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Okra pods are at their best from late June through September. Because okra thrives in hot climates and requires full sun, it stores a thick, watery liquid inside its pod. This flavorful, gelatinous liquid is the perfect thickener for soups and stews.
Okra is a rich source of dietary fiber and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin A, B, C and K, as well as zinc, copper, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
Okra is at its most flavorful when its pods are small, tender and slender. For roasting, frying or grilling, select pods that are 1-4 inches long. Longer pods tend to be tough, and should be used only for long stewing methods like soups, stews and gumbos.
Choose okra pods that are fresh, bright-colored, firm and have a bit of fuzz. The stem ends turn brown quickly, and this is normal; however, there shouldn’t be brown spots or wrinkling on the pods. Okra should be stored loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator and used within a few days.
To avoid the slimy texture that’s often associated with okra, follow these simple tips:
Wash and dry the pods thoroughly before using;
Use the whole pod, or wait to cut the okra until immediately before using;
Use the whole pod for quick cooking methods — grilling, roasting, frying — to reduce slime;
Don’t crowd the okra, as it promotes steaming and extracts the liquid inside;
Adding acid (citrus, tomatoes, vinegar, etc.) to okra reduces the interior liquid and adds flavor.
My recipe for okra roasted in a cast-iron skillet is a simple technique that beautifully showcases okra in a warm salad in all of its summer glory.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
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