by Jolene Adams, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
Summer is still in full swing, and I find myself wanting to snack as opposed to eating a full meal. When it’s hot and humid out, it’s refreshing to reach for a light bite of fruits and veggies, especially if they are in season. Currently I’m enjoying okra, zucchini and fresh blackberries from the garden.
One of my favorite foods is fried morel mushrooms. Unfortunately, they are only available for a short time in the spring. So when okra is ready I just have to fry some up. It is a close second to the morel on my list of fried veggies. Frying okra could not be easier. I love to start with fresh okra; however, you can absolutely use frozen okra that has been thawed out. The most important thing to remember is to keep the texture intact.
Most people don’t enjoy okra because of a somewhat slimy texture. To help the okra adhere to the batter, I like to use a bit of egg wash. It really serves as a binder. Lastly, real Southern-fried okra should always have a batter base of cornmeal. There is nothing more Southern than that. The crunchiness and grittiness is fantastic, with the okra, bread crumbs and flour really give it a crispy bite. I like to flavor the okra with a bit of paprika, and if you want to really bring home some spice, a little cayenne pepper wouldn’t hurt either.
Fried Southern Okra
Serves 6 as a side dish or 12 as a snack
12 ounces fresh okra cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/8-1/4 teaspoon paprika optional- go up to 1/4 teaspoon if you like spicy foods
Oil for frying
Season okra with salt and pepper. Add eggs to a separate small bowl. Combine flour, cornmeal, seasoned bread crumbs and paprika into another small bowl and whisk together. Begin by dipping okra into cornmeal and flour coating. Next add okra to eggs, coating on all sides. Lastly dip back into the coating and set aside okra on baking sheet. Repeat dredging process until all okra is ready.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Fry okra until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.
If frying veggies isn’t your thing, then try them baked. Zucchini make great chips, and the baked version of these chips are tasty and crispy.
Serves 12 as a snack
2 zucchini (sliced about 1/2 inch thick)
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
about 1/3 cup soy milk
Preheat oven to 475 degrees and lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly crisped. Turn zucchini chips over, then bake for another 5 minutes. Serve warm.
2 cups blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter, melted
For filling, in a medium saucepan, combine berries, sugar, water, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 8 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and baking soda. Stir in melted margarine until thoroughly combined. Set aside 1 cup of the oat mixture for topping. Press remaining oat mixture into an ungreased 9x9x2″ pan. Bake in a 350 oven for 20-25 minutes.
Carefully spread filling on top of baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Lightly press oat mixture into filling.
Bake in the 350 oven for 20-25 minutes more or till topping browns.
Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.