Corn, Tomatoes, and Okra — Oh yeah, summer is in full swing!

When I started this post, it was mid-July, but time seemed to get the best of me.  Yikes, it’s now the middle of August.  Where or where has the summer gone?  I used all my favorite summer veggies to make a simple Charred Okra, Corn, & Tomato Salad.  Corn and tomatoes are at their peak.  Okra is still around, but probably not for too much longer.

Are you an okra lover or hater?

I’ve never had much love for okra.  Suspect that many of you out there can relate.  A big part of that has to do with the ‘slime‘ or ‘goo‘ that okra gives off.

The slime is a result of mucilage, a thick gooey substance produced by nearly all plants, to include okra, aloe vera, cactus, and marshmallow; okra just so happens to produce greater than average concentrations of mucilage.  That’s why okra is commonly added to gumbo, the mucilage helps to thicken it.  That being said, if you’re not making gumbo and want to eliminate the slime, there are several ways to do so.

You can roast okra in the oven, grill it, or simply char okra in a cast-iron pan.  Along with the okra, I composed a quick salad of corn, tomatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs — a simple little salad to highlight the season.

Found some red and green okra at the market…

Charred the okra in a dry cast-iron skillet until nicely charred in spots.  Ditto for the corn.  You can remove the kernels from the cob and cook them in a dry cast-iron skillet until charred in spots. Alternatively, you can grill the corn — with the kernels intact — on an outdoor grill or grill pan, before removing and adding the kernels to the salad.

Can’t go wrong with summer corn…look for organic or non-GMO corn.

A lovely assortment of summer tomatoes, simply chopped and added to the pan, along with the okra and corn, until just warmed through…

Voila, the finished dish — simple and seasonal.  Serve with grilled fish, meat, chicken, etc.

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Charred Okra, Corn, Tomato Salad 

2 ears of corn, shucked
extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces okra
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
12 ounces small tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped herbs (such as a combination of cilantro, parsley, and basil)
squeeze of lime, plus wedges for serving
1/2 to 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, to taste, finely chopped (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a grill or grill pan.  Rub the corn with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Grill until nicely charred in places.  Set aside to cool.  When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob.

Remove the stems from the okra, slice the okra in half lengthwise.  Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Heat a large heavy bottom frying pan over high heat.  Leave for a few minutes until smoking hot. Add the okra in batches, cut side down and sear undisturbed until nicely charred on the bottom, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Flip the okra and cook another 30 seconds.  Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining okra.

Return all the okra to the pan along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the sliced garlic, and stir for a minute or two until the garlic in tender, but not browned.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the corn, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons water, the chopped herbs, and lime juice (and chile, if using).  Season with salt and pepper.  Gently stir so tomatoes don’t break, and continue cooking another 2 to 3 minutes until the tomatoes are warmed through.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkling of sea salt, and a wedge of lime.

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