Okra is one of those vegetables you love or hate, and—we’d swear on a stack of our favorite cookbooks—any one of these 7 recipes will put you squarely in the love camp. From simple searing on a grill pan to more complex compound recipes, okra is subtly sweet and (when properly cooked) beautifully crisp-tender.

1. Grilled Okra

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Tossing fresh green okra pods onto a searing-hot grill pan is the vegetable at its simple best. The okra ends up softened, a little blistered on the outside, and without any trace of sliminess. Get our Grilled Okra recipe.

2. Fried Okra

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This is one of the simple pleasures of Southern cooking: sliced okra pods tossed in the simplest of cornmeal batters (spiked up with black pepper), fried quickly in properly hot oil. Popcorn shrimp (and for that matter, even popcorn itself) has nothing on these. Get our Fried Okra recipe.

3. Yogurt Dipping Sauce for Okra

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Mayonnaise-based dips are a longtime thing in the South. Here, okra explores its Greek side with a bright, simple, garlic-and-basil-flavored yogurt dip. Added calorie bonus: It’s made with low-fat yogurt. Get our Yogurt Dipping Sauce for Okra recipe.

4. Shrimp and Okra Hushpuppies

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Three defining foods of the South—shrimp, okra, and hushpuppies—have an old-fashioned family reunion in this recipe. Creole seasoning gives them proper Louisiana flavor, diced red pepper makes them look like a party, and a slug of beer in the batter gives them the right quality of lightness. Get our Shrimp and Okra Hushpuppies recipe.

5. Charred Okra with Bacon Jam

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Atlanta chef (and Top Chef alumnus) Kevin Gillespie came up with this deeply savory, wonderfully seared, and subtly sweet mashup of okra and bacon, cooked in cast iron. Try it with fresh biscuits and/or eggs! Get our Charred Okra with Bacon Jam recipe.

6. Easy Chicken Gumbo

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Starting with a cooked rotisserie chicken makes this quite possibly the fastest gumbo ever. It can go from ingredients to table in 40 minutes. Frozen cut okra is another key time-save—all you have to do, basically, is warm it up in the gumbo and serve. Get our Easy Chicken Gumbo recipe.

7. Maque Choux

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This traditional Louisiana dish of stewed corn, okra, and peppers is kind of the Cajun version of succotash. It’s a vibrant, versatile dish we start making when the first corn comes in, and don’t let go of until summer’s over. Get our Maque Choux recipe.

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