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Experimenting with okra has become a consistent discipline I’ve come to appreciate this summer.  Having three plants producing a total of 1-4 okra per day has necessitated the practice.  It doesn’t sound like much but one can only eat so much okra.  Over time I’ve learned that three prolific plants are the perfect amount for two people.  After having made gratins and casseroles every week for the last month I tried something new inspired by a broiled eggplant dish I love.

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1 lb fresh okra

olive oil

parmesan cheese

salt

black pepper

Savory Herb Pesto

1/2  bunch fresh tarragon

1/2 bunch fresh basil chopped

2-3 Tablespoon fresh marjoram chopped

1/2  cup toasted macadamia nuts

1/2 -1 tsp Salt

2 cloves Garlic

Olive oil

For pesto, place all ingredients except olive oil in small food processor and mince.  Drizzle olive oil until it becomes a little more liquid than a paste.  Adjust salt as needed.  A mortar and pestle can also be used for the pesto if you don’t have a food processor.  Herbs and nuts can be substituted.  I have used lemon basil, mint and walnuts and it’s wonderful.

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For okra, trim ends off okra.  Slice down the middle lengthwise.  Place okra seed side down.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Broil 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and flip okra over seed side up.  Drizzle pesto over okra and top with parmesan cheese.  Broil another 3-5 minutes.

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Okra belongs to the Malvaceae family which also includes cacao, cotton and hibiscus.  Amazing that the three are related.  It’s easier to tell by looking at the leaves, flowers and pods than by comparing flavors and fruits!  The flower of the Malvaceae is quite distinguishable here in Hawaii because of the abundance of non-edible hibiscus plants here.  They are probably one of the most ubiquitous landscaping plants on the island.  If you compare the flowers of the hibiscus and okra plant you will immediately see the similarities.  The same is true for cotton.

okra2We planted the Clemson variety which began producing quickly when it was short and bushy.  Okra is a low maintenance easy plant to grow in summer. It  must be harvested when the pods are 3-4 inches long.  Anything longer than that and they will most likely be woody and inedible.  The pods grow an inch a day so they must be checked every day to harvest the tender pods.   I give it spirulina tea after transplanting and compost about 6 weeks after that.  It likes the long summer sunlight and not too much water.

DSC02145 (950x713) (2)Every day we collect our vibrant, green pods and at the end of a week we have approximately 20 or 25 okra.  Enough for a nice casserole or gratin with leftovers for a couple of days.

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