This recipe is about trust. Because I know okra can be a tough sell. I get it. And I'm not going to tell you that these grilled okra spears taste like French fries or anything else — they taste like okra. Which I happen to love.
I love their earthy and undeniably green flavor. I love the charred bits that get crispy on the grill (which are, admittedly, rather fry-like). I love the way the seeds pop between my teeth. This is the recipe that made fall in love with okra. Trust me on this one.
You're probably wondering about the slime factor here. Oh, the dreaded slime factor! Since the okra is quickly cooked over high heat and because each pod remains intact in its own little okra universe, the slime factor is minimized in this recipe. Think "creamy" rather than "slimy" in this instance. (Trust.)
Of course, if the okra is a tough sell, this chipotle dipping sauce certainly should not be. As much as I love okra, it still needs something to jazz it up. Something to contrast the earthiness and add a bit of zing. Something like smoky-spicy chipotle peppers and lime juice mixed into a sauce of sour cream and mayo. Yes, that will do it quite nicely. If you have leftover sauce, by the way, save it for spreading on sandwiches and burgers or just eating with raw veggies. It keeps in the fridge for at least week — probably more.
One more argument for this grilled okra: it makes a great party appetizer. Besides being quick and easy to grill, they're unexpected and intriguing. Surely, you can try just one. To be polite, of course. And then, much like any other crunchy, salty, intriguing snack, suddenly they're gone. (Trust.)
Grilled Okra with Spicy Chipotle Dipping Sauce
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound finger-sized okra
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 chipotle in adobo, roughly chopped (seeds removed, if desired)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heat a grill to high heat. If your grill grates are so wide that the okra might fall through, use a vegetable grilling pan or spear the prepared okra on skewers.
Prepare the okra by slicing each one down its length, stopping just short of the top. This helps the okra cook more evenly and creates more crispy bits. Toss the okra in a mixing bowl with the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. (If needed for grilling, spear the okra on skewers, like kebabs.)
Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, chipotle, adobo sauce, lime juice, and the salt in a blender or in the measuring cup of an immersion blender. Blend until thoroughly combined. Taste and add more adobo sauce, lime juice, or salt, to taste. Transfer the sauce to a small serving cup.
When the grill is ready, spread the okra out in a single layer over the grill (or in the grill pan). Cover and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the cover and flip the okra to grill the other side. Continue grilling, flipping as needed, until the okra are evenly grilled on all sides, another 3 to 5 minutes (5 to 7 minutes total).
Transfer the grilled okra to a serving plate and serve with the chipotle sauce. Okra is best if eaten immediately, while still piping hot from the grill.
Leftover chipotles in adobo: Transfer leftover chiles and adobo sauce from their can to a clean jar or other sealable container. Store in the fridge for several more weeks or freeze in small portions for up to 3 months.
No grill? Try this! You can also roast the okra in high heat in the oven or in a scorching hot cast iron skillet over high heat. The okra will taste a little less smokey, but will be no less delicious.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)