This fall I feel like I’m on the television show “Chopped”. I am participating in CSA through my employer. On Monday I get a box of fresh produce from a local farmer to bring home and cook. Get ready, open basket, wait for the buzzer to go off and I’ve got a week to cook the box of food. It’s a fun challenge! And generous helping of fresh vegetables for our family.
Week One’s box (shown above) included lots of fresh okra. So did week Two’s box (shown below). Better find some okra recipes. Fortunately, my Cajun next door neighbor loved to cook and she shared several okra recipes with me.
Growing Okra in Louisiana
Okra is a vegetable that grows well in my garden. It tolerates the summer heat. And okra makes one of the most beautiful blossoms around. Here’s a red variety of okra and a blossom.
Okra pods seem to grow overnight. When the pods are young and small, they are tender. But if you let the okra pods grow too large, they become fibrous and tough. I didn’t realize this last summer and cooked some very large, fibrous pods. My college-age son and guests from California were visiting–they had never seen or eaten okra. Everybody tried to eat the okra, with the guests being good sports. The okra was extremely chewy! I bet my son’s friends wonder what we eat here in Louisiana.
Essie’s Easy Baked Okra and Tomatoes
Essie’s method of cooking the okra was to bake it in the oven on a low temperature (325 degrees) for a long time. This eliminates the problem with slimy okra. Essie added onions, bell pepper and garlic to the chopped okra and also canned tomatoes; seasoning with salt and pepper. I will substitute fresh tomatoes and some water. This is a simple recipe and very easy. Chop the vegetables, place in casserole dish and bake. Perhaps you will enjoy okra prepared this way.
What is Community Supported Agriculture?
This fall I decided to participate in CSA. This is a general term for a type of cooperative arrangement between the farmer and consumer that has become popular in recent years. There are no set standards, it varies from community to community and farm to farm. In general, the consumer purchases a share in the farm at the beginning of the season, the fee varying with the arrangement. Then during the growing season, the farmer brings baskets of food to the shareholders at various intervals.
In my situation, the program is administrated through my employer who entered into an agreement with a local farm, Luckett Family Farms. Each week, for 10 weeks we get a box of produce from the farmer on Monday. Don’t know what we will receive all fall–the first two weeks have been produce grown in the summer in Louisiana. It’s a little too early for fall and cool weather produce.
I received some beautiful eggplant, lots of okra, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. And the baskets have contained potatoes, too. For me, it’s the challenge. It will make for many creative ideas and lots of healthy vegetables.
Here’s the recipe, which I scaled to a smaller quantity than shown in the above photo.
Essie's Easy Baked Okra and Tomatoes
- cooking oil (to oil casserole dish)
- 8 oz fresh okra, chopped to make about 2 cups (or substitute 2 cups frozen okra)
- 1 medium onion, chopped to make about 1 cup
- 1/4 bell pepper, chopped about 1/4 cup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tomato chopped (or substitute 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice)
- 1/2 cup water (omit is using canned tomatoes)
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Method and Steps
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees, oil bottom and sides of a 9×9 casserole dish (or 8×8 dish),
- Place chopped okra, onion, bell pepper, garlic and tomato in casserole dish.
- Add 1/2 cup water OR add can diced tomatoes with juice (omit water if using canned tomatoes). Stir to distribute vegetables.
- Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables.
- Place in oven and bake for an hour. If okra starts to dry out, cover with aluminum foil in last 20 minutes.