Ever since I picked up my CSA share from Loam last weekend and saw that it included beautiful okra (aptly nicknamed lady’s fingers) I’ve had a hankering for some sort of fried okra. It’s been an odd craving because I’ve only eaten fried okra maybe twice in my life and it certainly wasn’t a vegetable on the regular rotation when I was a kid. But, something about the slender green and purple hued okra in my share made me instantly want some fried okra.
I knew I wanted to make it healthier and remove the frying-in-oil part of the equation so I decided to go with baking them in the oven at a higher temperature. I was really skeptical about how they would end up turning out, but they were so good that I decided to share them here in case you guys are having similar cravings now that okra is in season here in Texas. Though I ate them alone with the dipping sauce, I could see them as a lovely addition to a po-boy situation or collard wrap.
As per usual, these are gluten free and vegan, but I’ll add in other substitutions below in case you eat dairy. The flour mixture is seasoned heavily with Old Bay just to give it a little something special, but you can totally use straight up salt and pepper and these will still be darn tasty. And, just because I love you and it felt weird not to include one, I made a dip to go with. It’s made from sunflower seeds, apple cider vinegar, and plenty of dried herbs. Basically, you’re getting “fried” okra and a sauce WITHOUT any added oils. Pretty awesome (and delectable) if you ask me.
p.s. I’m starting something new where I link to sources at the bottom of the post so I can share and support makers and shakers I love. In this post you’ll find sources for the ceramics and okra used 🙂
Oven Fried Okra with Sunflower Cider Dip
for the okra
1/2 lb okra, stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk (or an equal amount of buttermilk)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (omit if using buttermilk)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
1 scant tbsp Old Bay seasoning (or, salt and pepper)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar, then add in the prepped okra. Make sure the okra are coated in the coconut milk then set this mixture aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, tapioca starch, and Old Bay. After the okra mixture has rested, drain out the coconut milk then toss the okra pieces in the cornmeal mix until they are coated. It might get messy, but that’s all part of the fun.
Arrange the coated okra pieces on your baking tray, then bake them at 450 for 15-20 minutes until the breading is toasty and golden. Cool for at least 15 minutes before enjoying. Serve with the sunflower cider dip if you like (see below). Makes enough for 2-3 people to snack on.
for the dip
1/2 cup sunflower kernels, soaked overnight
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 rounded tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp maple syrup or honey
6 tbsp water
1/8 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp total other dried herbs (I used a mix of oregano, thyme, and tarragon)
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and drain the sunflower kernels then add them to a blender along with all of the other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Makes about 1 cup of dip.