Okra is one of those vegetables that people either love or hate. One reason is the mucous that comes out when it's cooked, which is especially so when it's included in soups or stews. Popular in Africa and Asia, okra is a traditional ingredient in Southern dishes, like gumbo. But most people, if asked, wouldn't even be able to say what else could be made with okra. Sauteing and grilling are excellent and underutilized methods for cooking it.
Okra can be cooked alone, but it's more interesting when paired with another vegetable, like corn in this recipe. Grilling produces a nice char and smoky taste. The vegetable stays dry and has much less of a tendency to turn gooey. Corn adds a lot of sweetness to the dish to counterbalance the verdant flavor of okra. This recipe is also great for using up leftover grilled corn from a backyard barbecue. Serve it warm or, if you want to save time, make it ahead and enjoy it chilled. But the flavors are best when it's slightly warm off the grill. There's also a variety of okra that's less gooey, perfect for this recipe.
Did you know okra comes in a purple variety? I purchased this okra at Bodhitree Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket. Purple okra is known to be drier than the green kind, so it emits less of the goo when cooked. Unfortunately its pretty color fades to dark green when cooked, so in the end no one will recognize the difference by sight, but they will ask ask "what's your secret to cooking okra?" Pick up some purple okra if you see it at your local farmers' market. You'll be surprised at how much you'll like it.
Grilled Corn and Okra Salad
4 ears corn, cleaned of outer husk and silk
1/2 pound okra, stems trimmed, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Soak corn in water for 30 minutes.
Heat gas grill at medium heat.
Wrap ears in aluminum foil. Grill corn, turning periodically for about 30 minutes. Let corn cool so it's easy to handle. Using a sharp knife cut kernels from cob. Add to a bowl.
Toss okra with oil. Grill okra on a large sheet of aluminum foil or in a grill basket until limp and lightly charred, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Add to the bowl with corn. Drizzle in just enough oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.