Perfect as an appetizer or light summer meal, crispy roasted okra and cherry tomato bunches are served alongside an irresistible (cheater) pimentón aioli made with store bought mayo and smoked paprika.
People really get worked up over okra. There’s this idea that you need magical powers to overcome THE SLIME! I’m here to tell you that the slime is not a big deal at all. I mean, if you’re going to eat raw okra, yeah – it’ll be slimy. But cooking, and especially high heat cooking, turns the dreaded slime into chewy, starchy goodness. Okra slime is good!
For years, lightly breaded, deep-fried okra has been a mainstay, usually served along Brian’s fried chicken. But because deep-frying isn’t something I want to make a super regular habit of, but eating summer okra is, I’ve been working on roasting okra to perfection.
The key to beautifully roasted okra is the same as any other well-roasted vegetable – just a drizzle of oil, lots of sea salt, and plenty of room on the pan. And one more thing: folks will tell you that you can just shake the pan or casually flip the okra with a spatula, but if you miss a few, they’re likely to cook unevenly and burn. I must recommend that you take three minutes and flip each little okra spear with tongs. That way, both sides crisp up to a perfect golden brown. (These same principles, including the careful turn, are the foundation for all my favorite roasted vegetables.)
Cheater Pimentón Aioli
Besides crispy roasted okra, this recipe features roasted cherry tomatoes and a quick and easy cheater pimentón aioli. For those not indoctrinated, pimentón is just smoked paprika. It’s really good. If you like things fancy and as delicious as possible, please go ahead and make a proper pimentón aioli. But if you’re feeling hungry and ready to dig in to a simple summer meal, this cheater aioli is pretty great. (It’s also excellent served alongside other kinds of roasted vegetables, smeared on toast and topped with tomatoes, or as an all-purpose dip.)
- 1 pound okra, (2 - 4-inches long) rinsed, patted completely dry, stems trimmed
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil (or other heat tolerant, neutral oil)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 pound small cherry tomatoes (if possible, on the vine)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, toss okra with oil, spices, and sea salt.
Spread okra out on a large rimmed baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each piece of okra.
Roast 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, use tongs to flip each okra spear. Tuck cherry tomatoes in clusters between the okra, and roast 10 minutes more.
Working quickly, arrange on a platter alongside pimentón aioli (recipe below), and serve piping hot.
A complex-tasting pimentón aioli you can whip up in minutes flat. This stuff is irresistible – consider doubling the recipe for use as a general purpose dip or for sandwiches and toast. For a proper pimentón aioli, see my recipe here.
- 1 clove garlic smashed
- pinch sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon pimentón (aka smoked paprika)
- 1/2 cup real mayonnaise (Duke's forever)
- 1/4 cup sour cream (full-fat Greek yogurt works, too)
In a small mixing bowl, combine garlic, sea salt, and lemon; use a spoon to mash garlic into a paste. Stir in pimentón. Fold in mayo and sour cream. Cover and set in the fridge to chill.
Pimentón aioli can be made up to 2 days ahead. Covered tightly in the fridge, it will keep for five days (but you'll definitely eat it up first).