Recipe of the Week: Roasted Okra

Thanksgiving got in the way of this post for the last 2 weeks but hoping to get this back on track….maybe you’ll even get an extra ROTW this week! Yay!!

Ok…now to the goodies…literally.

I am a true Southern girl through and through. Aside from the fact that I ought to have my SG card revoked for hating sweet tea, I adore all other things Southern. I love the traditions, I love the front porches, I love the hospitality, I love the weather, and most importantly…I love am obsessed with Southern food.

Cornbread…hoppin’ john…fried green tomatoes…chow chow…limas…mac & cheese…black-eyed peas…country ham…the list goes on and on.

If there is one staple that I can absolutely not live without, it’s okra. Yes, okra. And yes I adore it in EVERY way….fried okra, stewed okra, pickled okra, slimy okra, raw okra…(I sound like Bubba Gump)…but my most favorite of all is roasted okra.

O(kra)MG!!!

I make it all the time…I actually try to make it at least once a week if I can find it.

Roasting any vegetable is amazing. I swear. If you haven’t tried roasting different veggies…you need to. It will change your life. Seriously.

Roasted okra is incredible and if you’ve never had it before….stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and go to the store. I promise you’ll be in love!

The taste of it is tough to describe…not because it’s weird…but because it’s so complex. It’s like the deliciousness of fried (without the mess and the oil and the breading) with a hint of caramelized, charred sweetness and the crisp freshness of a green vegetable. So freaking good.

It could not be easier…and could not be more wonderful! So do your Southern food lovin’ heart a favor and roast some okra for yourself!! Once you go roasted…you’ll never go back!

Roasted Okra Ingredients:

 1 lb. fresh okra, cleaned

2.5 tbsp olive oil

Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

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1)   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)   Cut the tops off your okra and split in half. (If they are really small…like pinky-size I typically leave them whole.)

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3)   Put cut okra in a large bowl and add 2.5 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix with a large spoon and place in single layer on baking sheet.

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4)   Roast for 20-30 minutes depending on how charred you like them.  (I typically move them around about halfway through to ensure they get browned on all sides.)

5)   Remove from oven and dive in!!

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That’s it…it’s seriously that simple. And if you don’t like okra (heathen)…you can use this same roasting process for a gazillion other vegetables. You’ll never eat anything boiled ever again if you try this method! I guarantee!!

A few tips and tricks…

–      I used a pound of okra for 2 people. The amount you use depends on how much your eaters love vegetables. I could seriously eat a pound or more by myself but for the sake of those around you that share your airspace, I don’t recommend it! 🙂

–       To clean the okra, I wet a paper towel and wipe them down like I do a mushroom. I’m sure rinsing in a colander works, but doesn’t seem as effective to me and just waterlogs them.

–       I always use fresh okra because it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to find here at farmers markets. I have tried this once with frozen, whole okra and it tasted so-so. Definitely didn’t caramelize the same way the fresh okra does.

–       You can use whatever type of oil you prefer…I like the taste of the olive oil especially since I’m not cooking it on a super high temperature. Feel free to experiment with whatever works best for you…coconut oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, etc.

–       Why do I mix in a bowl instead of directly on the baking sheet? Well…I used to. To save myself an extra thing to wash I used to skip the bowl but found I was using 2-3 times (and sometimes more) oil than I actually needed. Mixing in the bowl first allows you to get everything evenly coated and allows you to control the amount of oil you’re using.

–       You don’t have to cook this on 350 degrees to make it work. I’ve done it on 415…I’ve done it on 375….anything technically will work, especially if you’ve got other things in the oven that don’t cook at 350. Just make sure you watch the food to prevent it from incinerating. As little as the sweet little stalks become when they’re cooking, it’s really easy to look away and ruin the entire thing.

Would I Change Anything? Only to have more of it! P.S. The cold leftovers are delicious too! (Ok…I am officially weird.)

Would I Make It Again? Every night if I had an unlimited supply of okra. This is 100% my green vegetable go-to.

Fork Factor pic

I hope you’ll try this out! Let me know how it goes!!

Live Love Eat

Recipe Of The Week – Meatless Zucchini Roll-Ups

Only 3 days since the last blog…are you tired of me yet?

While brainstorming on some new things I could try on this blog, I decided to combine my obsession with 2 things: cooking and taking pictures of my food.

For those of you that are friends with me on FB (and most recently Instagram since I’m a late bloomer there), you know how culinarily obsessed I am. There is typically not a day that goes by that I fail to post some type of photo of something I’m eating…Unless I’m being forced to eat in the car. Let’s face it…a photo of a bag of chips isn’t exactly sexy.

So I decided to start posting a ‘Recipe Of The Week’. Some weeks there might be more than one if there’s something so incredible (and easy to document) that I feel needs to be shared with the masses.

So…how’s this ROTW thing going to go….well, for starters, most of my recipes aren’t exactly born from scratch in my brain (although some are). I am a Pinterest fanatic and I get a lot of inspiration there.

However, I never follow every step of a recipe. Whether it be that I don’t like the ingredients, or the original recipe wasn’t gluten free, or I’m missing a few things it called for, I always, always, always put my own spin on it. (Which doesn’t always work out, unfortunately….Ask Allen how ridiculously spicy my curry is every time I make it. Can’t seem to figure that one out.)

So I figured I would pick something I’ve made…link to the original recipe so you can decide what you like best (and to of course give props and proper credit to the person I borrowed the inspiration from). I’ll tell you what I changed, give you photos of the process, whether or not it was good and things I might do to improve it next time.

Sound good?

Can’t hear you so I’m going to assume your answer was yes…

Ok…before getting to this week’s recipe, here is the fine print/rules. (Yes…there are rules! What do you think this is? Spring Break?!)

1) No, I don’t know how many calories were in what I made. I might have an estimate based on what the original might have been but I have a terrible habit of just cooking by site and taste and not by measurement (which is why I’m a crappy baker). I also haven’t count calories since I went gluten free. Dangerous, yes. But 88 pounds later I can’t say it was the wrong choice. I believe in moderation and cutting calories in certain areas (i.e. the drinking the calories thing) so I can splurge in others. Sorry to disappoint you if nutritional information is what you were in search of.

2) Every recipe will be gluten free. Duh.

3) I am not an expert at vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc. I will not claim that any of my recipes fall in any of those categories (I will say ‘meatless’ if applicable) as I am not well versed in those areas yet. (Maybe one day?)

4) Cooking is a trial and error sport. (Hah…there are nights that I would consider it a sport.) I cook A LOT. A lot of the dishes I make turn out well and some don’t.

Best advice I can give you is to be patient with yourself. Keep trying. I’m a risotto master now because I made it for myself a lot in college until I mastered it. (And it took a lot of trying in order to conquer it, I promise.) Cooking is what you make of it and how much you enjoy it. Improvise with what you like and what you know works and have fun!

5) Let me know how it turns out if you make something I’ve posted! I’m obsessed with food and would love to know how others are enjoying something I so thoroughly enjoy too.

6) “Everything in moderation…including moderation.” ~ Julia Child

Ok, now to the good stuff….

Meatless Zucchini Roll Ups

Meatless Zucchini Roll-Ups

I’ve become meal planning obsessed so have themes for each day of the week to make my life a lot easier. (It makes planning a heck of a lot easier too!) It’s amazing how much less we’re spending on groceries and food in general each month. Here’s how our week typically goes:
Meatless Monday – Self explanatory
World Traveler Tuesday – Something international…Mexican, Thai, etc.
Down Home Wednesday – Something wholesome and Southern…a meat and 2 kind of meal.
One-Pot/Crock Pot Thursday – Less clean up…slow cooked deliciousness.
Fun & Frugal Friday – Something cheap and easy…Pizza, tacos, nachos, etc.
Free Saturday – Saturday is reserved as either our night to go out or to have leftovers.
Salad/Souper Sunday – Since it’s Fall I’ve been sticking to the ‘Souper’ part lately.

I made the roll-ups for dinner tonight. I love zucchini…I love cheese…I love lasagna. And this was a perfect combination of the three.

Here’s the original recipe: Meatless Cheesy Zucchini Roll-Ups – From Tried And Tasty

And here’s my version:

This was enough for 3-4 slightly hungry people or 2-3 hungry people.

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes (Depending on thickness of zucchini)
Rest Time: 5-10 Minutes
 

Ingredients:

2 medium sized zucchini
1 ½ c shredded mozzarella
½ cup part-skim ricotta
¾ cup low-fat cottage cheese (This is the secret to all good lasagna!! Try it!)
¼ cup fat-free sour cream
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (this is of course optional if you don’t like spicy)
½ cup Parmesan cheese (divided)
2 cups Marinara/Pizza/Tomato Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
 
The ingredients. Please excuse my picture taking skills...I'll get this lighting down sooner or later!

The ingredients. Please excuse my picture taking skills…I’ll get this lighting down sooner or later!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After cleaning your zucchini, remove the ends and slice thinly with a mandolin. I have a really cheap one so the slices were a bit thick. The thicker the slices, the harder this is. If you have a heavy-duty vegetable peeler and a steady hand that might work to make these thinner.
A lot of my pieces ended up splitting in the middle so I had to piece them together when rolling which, while tedious, worked out ok.

Slicing the zucchini...

Slicing the zucchini…

Once you’ve sliced your zucchini, mix the roll-up filling in a small bowl. The original recipe called for Greek yogurt, which I have a love-hate relationship with. I always use cottage cheese in my lasagna and knew that’s what I wanted to use instead. I know it sounds weird but I promise it’s a perfect ingredient for this!
Mix the cottage cheese, ricotta, sour cream, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, ¼ cup Parm and ½ cup mozzarella cheeses.

The cheesy stuff...

The cheesy stuff…

In a casserole dish, place half of the tomato sauce in the bottom. (Yes I know it would have been better to make my own but wanted easy tonight!)

Lay your zucchini flat and ‘fill’. Place about a tablespoon on one end and roll. It’s that easy. Place each roll in the pan, top with the other half of the tomato sauce and pop in the oven.
You could use toothpicks if you wanted it to look super perfect. I didn’t feel like having to go back in and pick them out. Laying the roll-ups on the seam and packing them in there tightly worked like a dream.

The pre-roll pic...

The pre-roll pic…

Pre sauce...all rolled and cozy.

Pre sauce…all rolled and cozy.

Post sauce...still all warm and cozy.

Post sauce…still all warm and cozy.

Bake for 20 minutes (this will depend on the thickness of your zucchini. If it’s paper thin you need less time).

Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parm and bake for an additional 10 minutes. You can broil for a few minutes as well if you like your cheese browned. (Be sure to watch it!)

Let sit for 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven and enjoy!!

The final product!! Yummy!!

The final product!! Yummy!!

Would I Change Anything? Not really. This would be delicious with Italian Sausage or ground beef, but was tomato-y perfection without it. (The end result was a tad bit watery because of the zucchini but not enough to distract from the flavor…the longer you let it sit after it comes out of the oven, the better that gets.)

Would I Make It Again? Absolutely. It was easy and delicious!

Fork Factor picTry it out and let me know what you think!! Or let me know what you think of this new idea and anything you’d like me to add or take away.

Massaman curry is on tap for tomorrow’s dinner…fingers crossed that it’s not too spicy!!

Until next time…

Live Love Eat