Put some okra in it
What’s in season: Though okra is found in a number of cuisines throughout the world — including African (from which the pods were introduced to the American South), Thai and Indian — the member of the mallow family is often a challenge to cook, even for fans, because of its rather gelatinous texture. But the vegetable pods can be used in a number of ways, including stewed, fried or pickled. Okra is typically in season from summer through early fall, and varieties range in color from vivid green to deep shades of red and purple. To minimize its viscous texture, look for pods that are small and firm, avoiding okra that is overly ripe or large.
What to cook: Because of its unique texture, okra is frequently used as a thickening agent, added to stews such as gumbo. To keep its syrupy texture to a minimum, cook the pods whole, or cook them quickly, preferably with an acid such as citrus or vinegar. Okra works well added at the last minute to a sour fish soup or slowly stewed with potatoes and tomatoes. Snack on the vegetable as a “chip,” frying sliced rounds dusted with cornmeal and served with ketchup or another dipping sauce. Okra also makes a great summer pickle.
What’s on the horizon: Zucchini and other summer squash are filling up market stands, as are cherry and some heirloom varieties of tomatoes.
OKRA can be added to stews, fried into chips or made into pickles. Find recipes online at latimes.com/food.