This Hot Okra, Bacon, and Tomato Salad Recipe tastes like summer in a bowl

Warm okra, tomato and bacon salad

Total time:30 mins

Servings:4 to 6

Total time:30 mins

Servings:4 to 6

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I read an excellent description of the flavor of okra in one of my favorite cookbooks, “The Vegetable Butcher”. Cara Mangini writes that the vegetable combines “notes of eggplant, green beans and asparagus”. I think that’s fair.

For years I’ve only eaten okra cut into bite-size pieces, beaten and fried or simmered in okra, but as I grew older and started experimenting I discovered its versatility and learned to love the texture and flavor that it offers. he brings to so many dishes, like this warm okra, tomato, and bacon salad from Jarred I. Zeringue’s “Southern and Smoked.” The restaurateur is a big advocate for eating what’s in season, and his 80-plus-recipe cookbook, subtitled “Cajun Cooking Through the Seasons,” is broken down that way. This salad, of course, lands in the summer chapter.

If you have an okra plant, you know it is prolific if you pick the pods often. As Zeringue notes, “okra must be picked daily and served fresh, otherwise it will be too tough to eat.”

Tender okra pods about 2 to 3 inches long are best for this dish. If you can’t find a fresh supply at a farmers market or grocery store, consider buying frozen okra and thawing it before cooking. If the okra is tender enough, you can simply slice it lengthwise from stem to tip. If it’s a little harder, you may need to cut off the caps and tips.

Extra crispy fried okra is the summertime snack

Zeringue bought the 72-year-old Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse, a restaurant and butcher shop in LaPlace, Louisiana, in 2016. The store, which was battered by Hurricane Ida in 2021, ships its meats across the country, so the salad – like most recipes in the cookbook – features smoked meats: in this case, thick, crispy bacon.

He slices the tender okra pods from stem to tip, then roasts them until they begin to brown in spots. Some people are put off by the gooey texture of okra, which comes from its seeds, which makes okra a natural thickener for okra and stews. Roasting the tender pods — as well as frying, grilling, or marinating them — helps tone down some of that texture.

Think you hate okra? These slime cutting techniques will change your mind.

On the roasted okra, Zeringue tosses grape tomatoes, goat cheese, cooked bacon and pecan halves. He dresses it all up in a bright lemon-shallot vinaigrette before putting it back in the oven, until the tomatoes start to sag and shrivel.

The pretty-as-a-picture salad, which takes about 30 minutes to prepare, can be served as a main course when accompanied by crusty bread. It will also be excellent as an accompaniment, especially with grilled or smoked meat or fish. For color, use multicolored grape tomatoes. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, try feta or even ricotta.

Warm okra and tomato salad

Storage Notes: The salad is best eaten immediately, but you can refrigerate it for up to 2 days.

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  • 1 pound fresh okra, sliced ​​lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups (14 to 16 ounces) grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
  • 5 slices thick bacon (about 5 ounces), cooked and coarsely crumbled
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) raw pecan halves
  • 1 shallot, finely grated or chopped
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Hot bread, for serving (optional)

Roast the okra: Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

In a large ovenproof skillet or casserole, toss the okra with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in a single layer as best you can. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until the okra is just beginning to brown in spots.

Prepare the dressing: While the okra roasts, in a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, lemon zest and juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil, whisking constantly until emulsified.

Make the salad: Take the okra out of the oven, add three-quarters of the dressing, toss to coat well, and spread the okra again in a single layer in the pan. Add tomatoes, cheese, bacon and pecans and sprinkle with remaining dressing. Return the pan to the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes just start to shrivel.

Serve family style, with warm bread, if desired.

Per serving (1 1/4 cups), based on 6

Calories: 393; Total fat: 37 g; Saturated fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 15mg; sodium: 604mg; Carbohydrates: 13g; Dietary fiber: 4g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 7g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “South and Smoky” by Jarred I. Zeringue (Pelican Publishing, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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