I’m sure some of you may be wondering why I call this dish “sort of” succotash. In my house, we just call it succotash, but I added this disclaimer purely so that the succotash purists will give the recipe a try. It’s “sort of” succotash because I omit one ingredient crucial to true succotash: lima beans. I’m not the biggest fan of lima beans, or most shelling beans in general. My body doesn’t really care for them—plus I find them kind of mealy and dry, and a hassle to work with especially since I’m not terribly enamored with them. In their place (and I’m proud to say with huge, delicious success) I use whole-pod beans instead—currently, green beans, purple beans, and wax beans since they are coming on strong from the garden.
A truly American recipe, succotash pops up in every region in the country, with each having its own take on this traditional course. And, naturally, every rendition of those individual recipes might come with their own unique twist. My secret (and what converted me to being a major okra-loving fanatic): the oven.
The most common complaint people have about okra is the slimy texture it takes on when cut and cooked. And, I admit, I’ve been one to agree. That is until I accidentally discovered the beauty of pre-roasting all my okra before adding it to other dishes. (It’s also heavily addictive straight out of the roasting pan!) This discover was seriously a game-changer! Not only does roasting concentrate the flavor, but it also (somehow) magically eliminates almost all the sliminess. Mind. Positively. Blown. Though roasting does work best with fresh okra, you can use frozen too.
I absolutely love the distinctive flavor of okra—it’s truly unlike any other vegetable out there—but many people are turned off by its texture, which caused me to avoid using it quite in recipes throughout the years. This was unfortunate, because not only does okra taste delicious, it’s also packed with a multitude of beneficial bonuses!
Okra pods contain considerable amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber, and the vegetable aids in healing and preventing inflammation. In fact, the very thing that turns many people off—the mucilage, that sticky and slimy substance—contains polysaccharides, which provide hosts of healing benefits to the intestinal walls and organ linings, and offers soothing lubrication for the bowel. Because of this, okra is often used in the treatment of a number of conditions such as stomach ulcers, gastritis, and liver and gallbladder cleansing. Additionally, okra contains healthy amounts of vitamins A, C, K, and B complex vitamins, particularly folates.
People outside warm regions like the southern U.S. might not be familiar with okra. A fantastic way to introduce okra to your (possibly hesitant) eaters is to combine it with other flavorful and fresh veggies in a big sauté like succotash. Succotash compliments most main courses, and is always fresh and bright! If you’ve been wary, or turned off by okra in the past, I urge you to try my roasting secret before discounting this truly beneficial plant.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 pound okra, cut in ½-inch coins
Sea salt and cracked pepper
2 tablespoons bacon fat, butter, olive oil, or other fat of your choice
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 zucchini or yellow squash, diced
3 fresh corn ears, kernels cut from cob
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
Olive oil, for drizzling on the okra
- Preheat the oven to 450° Arrange sliced okra on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, lightly crisp, and browned in places, about 20–25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt bacon fat in a large, heavy pan. Cook the onion and green beans with a little salt and pepper, until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Add bell pepper, zucchini, corn, and thyme.
- Sauté all veggies are until lightly browned and tender, adding a little water, if mixture seems dry, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Add roasted okra to succotash and stir through. Serve hot.
Images from Briana Goodall.