02 July 2010

Summertime Tastes Good

So it's officially summer around here. Although the past few days of hurricane-induced clouds, rain, and 80 degree high temperatures have been a bit deceiving, there's really no doubt about it. And summertime in Texas is certainly no walk in the park. Spending any time outdoors means enduring sweltering heat, abundant mosquitoes, and compromising sweat stains. But our summers are also not without their pleasures. For me, summer means the chance to while away a whole afternoon hopping back and forth between the baking heat of my beach towel and the frigid waters of Barton Springs or Deep Eddy. It means warm summer evenings and fabulous, nighttime, star-filled swims. Summer brings impromptu lakeside picnics and driving home in the evening sitting on a towel, swimsuit still drying. It means late evening poolside dinners with friends and family, vases bursting with the bright colors of zinnias, and the scent of citronella in the air.

But best of all, it's the season of my favorite food. Summertime bliss comes in the form of sweet watermelon (with seeds!) and Pecos cantaloupe, Fredericksburg peaches, basil, tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, and eggplant in every form you can imagine. This year the flavors of summer arrive conveniently on my doorstep on a weekly basis in the form of a farm share/CSA basket from Tecolote Farm. Although the farm has a long waiting list, by a stroke of luck I got to sign up, and now Leah and I split a basket of phenomenal local produce every week.

It's been about a month so far and every week the basket is different. Weeks past have brought leeks, carrots, beets, and lots of okra (hence the recipe below). This week's basket was particularly summery--chock full of tomatoes, eggplant, basil, cucumbers, and a very fragrant yellow melon. It arrived just in time to fuel a holiday weekend sure to bring good friends, great food, and fireworks!

Roasted Okra
**my new favorite way to prepare okra. so easy and so tasty too! next I want to try grilling it...will report back. Although I haven't yet tried it, I think it would also be great to roast fresh corn kernels and halved cherry tomatoes with the okra--and a little bit of fresh chopped basil at the very end.

okra (maybe 1 lb for two people??)
olive oil
salt (I use kosher)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash okra and slice off stem ends. Cut small (3-4 inch) okra pods in half lengthwise and larger pods into quarters. Pour about one tablespoon or so oil in bottom of bowl large enough to hold all the okra--add okra and mix to coat, adding more oil if it seems necessary. Sprinkle on about 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt (to taste) and mix. Spread okra out on a baking sheet so that it's not crowded (if you're cooking a lot of okra use more than one sheet). Place in heated oven and cook for 15 minutes until it starts to brown. Using spatula or tongs turn the okra and cook for another 10-15 minutes until very browned and crispy. Remove from oven, taste for salt, and serve immediately for ultimate crispness.

1 comment:

Nisa said...

I grilled some okra last weekend and am happy to report that it, too, is a great option! Just a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a few minutes over the coals and you're set.