Who loves OKRA?! Okra is one of those vegetables – kind of like eggplant – that people either love or hate with a dirty passion. It’s a textural thing. Some might describe it as slimy. I prefer to describe it as lush and creamy. And when you know what you’re doing with it, you can minimise the ‘slime-factor’.
This Mexican baked okra recipe is my favourite way to cook my favourite vegetable. It’s:
- easy to prepare and cook
- gluten free
- oil free (if desired)
- totally delicious
AND it’s packed with all the incredible benefits offered by this Ethiopian native vegetable. Okra has a killer nutritional profile (or maybe I should say the opposite – lifesaving?!), with notable amounts of essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron, plus a rich array of vitamins. It’s especially high in vitamins C and K.
There are loads of studies out there to support okra as a food that helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, improve eyesight and fight against numerous nasty diseases. It’s also known for suppressing hunger because it’s packed with soluble fibre, which keeps you fuller for longer.
How to prepare okra – sans slime
OK, so I mentioned earlier that I prefer to call okra lush and creamy rather than slimy. But if you’ve ever had poorly prepared okra you will know that is absolutely can be too slimy. Ugh. Not nice.
There’s actually a word for it, which kinda sounds worse than the word ‘slime’ itself: Mucilage. Mmm. It’s a gelatinous substance found in okra – as well as some other plants – that can be used as a thickening agent.
Here’s the thing about mucilage when it comes to okra: it gets thicker when you slice the okra. If you’re using it in curries and stews, this isn’t so bad because it can act as a thickener for the sauce, but for recipes such as this we want to stick to a few tricks to keep the mucilage in check and avoid slime. These are my top tricks:
- Choose the smallest okra you can find – the smaller they are, the fewer seeds they have and therefore the less mucilage.
- Dry the okra thoroughly after washing it – if you leave moisture on the skin, this will turn to steam in the cooking process, which will stimulate the mucilage and increase its viscosity. In other words, SLIME! Do this with a really absorbent kitchen towel or paper towel.
- Cook it at a high temperature – I don’t know why, but for some reason, high temperatures suppress the release and thickening of the mucilage. You’re left with cooked okra that has that lush and creamy texture that we’re chasing. So yummy.
This is a seriously easy okra recipe. The key ingredient for the crumb is the egg replacer powder. When it comes to replacing eggs in vegan cooking, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Different recipes call for different ingredients to be used to replace the egg.
However, vegan egg replacer is a combination of ingredients such as baking powder, arrowroot flour and tapioca starch to mimic the binding and raising properties of egg in cooking and baking.
Mixed with a bit of water to form a paste, it makes a super handy base for the crumb to stick to in this crispy baked okra. Toss the spices together with the breadcrumbs in another bowl and you’re ready to start dipping and rolling the okra:
Bake it in a hot oven for 15 minutes and voila! Who ever said you need egg to crumb things?!
What to serve it with?
The Mexican spice mix used in this crispy baked okra is really tasty enough that you don’t need to serve it with anything at all. But I happened to have a jar of my delish-bomb Roasted Garlic Avocado Aioli sitting in the fridge, so I served it with that. Oh my goodness gracious, talk about perfection.
Any vegan aioli would make a great dipping sauce, or even some guacamole or Mexican salsa dip.
I spent many years being terrified of this unusual (and sometimes hard to find!) vegetable, so hopefully this recipe will make you realise okra is not so scary after all.
This really is a quick and easy way to cook okra. The best, IMHO 😉
Gluten free, dairy free, egg free and the BEST way to cook okra!
- 200 grams fresh okra (a.k.a lady fingers)
- 2 tbsp egg replacer powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt, pepper and chilli powder to taste
Preheat oven to 220ºC (430ºF) - drop 20ºC if using fan force. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Rinse the uncut okra in a colander then pat it dry using a very absorbent kitchen towel, or some paper towel. Make sure there is no moisture left on the okra (see recipe intro above for why!)
Whisk the egg replacer powder with the water in a small bowl to form a smooth paste.
In a larger bowl, add all the spice mix ingredients and the breadcrumbs and toss together until well combined.
Holding an okra by the stem, roll it in the egg-replacer paste (you may want to use your fingers to spread it evenly) and then roll it in the spice/breadcrumb mix so it's evenly coated. Place it on the baking tray and repeat for all the okra.
If using the olive oil, drizzle it evenly across the prepared okra on the baking tray - this will make them a little extra crispy, but is not essential.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crumb has turned a golden brown.
Remove from oven and serve immediately with roasted garlic avocado aioli as a dipping sauce (see recipe intro for link to this recipe!)