Seasonal Chef: Okra and Eggplants

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This week I was excited to find okra and eggplant in my farm share.  Growing up in a Greek family okra and eggplant found its way to our table generally the same way: in a stew with tomatoes and fresh herbs. For years I ate them both no other way. While that is a great hearty vegetable stew, it’s just too much of a wintry dish for the dead of summer. A quick check on my pantry yielded Wild Hive Farm cornmeal and za’atar spice form my favorite spice girl Linzi at Spice Revolution. Okra is high in vitamin C and manganese and strange sticky center aside, quite tasty. They were the perfect size to compliment the long thin Japanese eggplants. After a quick rinse and pat dry I sliced the okra in half lengthwise and cut the eggplant in 1/2 ” coins. Toss them together with some salt and pepper and set aside.

cornmeal dredging station

I have these great little dredging pans that interlock side by side are perfect for the job. I used cornstarch instead of flour to keep the veggies on the lighter side. Just be sure to shake the excess off. My hand held mesh strainer worked perfectly for that job.

frying eggplantYou want to use a light oil for frying. Canola, grape seed or avocado oil is perfect. It won’t leave a heavy aftertaste. Also make sure the oil is nice and hot. If not, you will have oily limp veggies.

fried okra and eggplant

Use the same strainer to drain the veggies and then toss with a little kosher salt while they are still warm.

Yogurt mixed with za'atar spice and sesame seeds

While the veggie cook mix up your dip and set it aside. Along with my za’atar I used the delicious Sohha Yogurt, found at many markets now and in NYC at Chelsea Market.

This tasty recipe could not be easier. A perfect appetizer for a warm summer night, with a nice cold beer!

I will be demoing this delicious dish today at the Irvington Farmers Market  from 4:30 to 6:30. Stop by my table for a taste!

Buon Appetito!

One year ago: Golden Beets
Two years ago: What is a CSA?

 

Crispy Fried Okra and Eggplant with Za'atar Yogurt Dip

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Crispy Fried Okra and Eggplant with Za'atar Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of mixed baby okra (3-4" long) and Japanese eggplant (2" diameter)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup coarse grind cornmeal, I used: Wild Hive Farm cornmeal
  • Canola oil, or another that is flavorless
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, I used: Sohha Yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon za'atar spice, I used: Spice Revolution Za'atar
  • Juice 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the okra and eggplant. Slice the okra in half lengthwise, and the eggplant into 1/4" coins. Season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Set up a dipping station with the cornstarch in one pan, eggs in one pan, and the cornmeal in the last with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper mixed in.
  3. in a 9" skillet add enough oil to bring the level to 1" and set over medium high heat. Set up a rack or sheet tray lined with paper towels next to the sauté pan.
  4. Add the okra and eggplant to the cornstarch toss well and then drop on a mesh colander to shake off the excess starch. Dip on the egg and then the cornmeal shaking off the excess.
  5. Test the oil to make sure it's hot enough by using one small piece of eggplant. If its not hot enough the vegetables will simmer and get oil soaked. (Not good eats!) Fry for 3 to 4 minutes and flip. Remove and drain in your colander and toss with a little kosher salt. Set on the paper towel to cool.
  6. While the veggies are frying combine the yogurt, za'atar, lime juice and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Top with the sesame seeds and serve with the crispy veggies.

Notes

You can also use green beans and small zucchini in this recipe as well.

http://food.lohudblogs.com/2014/07/16/seasonal-chef-okra-and-eggplants/

Fried Okra and Japanese Eggplant
Serves 4-6

1 lb of mixed baby okra and Japanese eggplant
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 eggs
1 cup coarse grind cornmeal, I used: Wild Hive Farm cornmeal
Canola oil, or another that is flavorless
1 cup Greek yogurt, I used Sohha Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon za’atar spice, I used Spice Revolution’s blend
Juice 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Wash and dry the okra and eggplant. Slice the okra in half lengthwise, and the eggplant into 1/4? coins. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Set up a dipping station with the cornstarch in one pan, eggs in one pan, and the cornmeal in the last with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper mixed in.

3. In a 9? skillet add enough oil to bring the level to 1? and set over medium high heat. Set up a rack or sheet tray lined with paper towels next to the sauté pan.

4. Add the okra and eggplant to the cornstarch toss well and then drop on a mesh colander to shake off the excess starch. Dip on the egg and then the cornmeal shaking off the excess.

5. Test the oil to make sure it’s hot enough by using one small piece of eggplant. If its not hot enough the vegetables will simmer and get oil soaked. (Not good eats!) Fry for 3 to 4 minutes and flip. Remove and drain in your colander and toss with a little kosher salt. Set on the paper towel to cool.

6. While the veggies are frying combine the yogurt, za’atar, lime juice and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Top with the sesame seeds and serve with the crispy veggies.

Cook’s Note:
You can also use green beans and small zucchini in this recipe as well.

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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