My parents’ visit meant that our normal Saturday routine of foraging for something special for dinner didn’t take place, leaving us at a strange place to figure out what we were going to have for dinner. Neither of us felt like spending hours in the kitchen after cleaning the apartment in the morning and entertaining all afternoon, so I was struck with the idea to do as the Romans would do and make some simple cacio e pepe, sweetening the deal for Michael by adding in the suggestion of using up the fried okra we had purchased on our last trip to Fairway.
In theory it should have been perfect–neither dish takes long to make, and with so few ingredients we should have been in and out of the kitchen in less than a half-hour. That night, though, things didn’t work out quite as we intended either because we were distracted, tired or both: I forgot to save some of the starchy water to help incorporate the cheese more efficiently, leaving some pepper-laced clumps here and there, and Michael had a slightly heavy hand with the cayenne pepper. That aside, fried okra is a solid, quick, and reasonably healthy way to make a vegetable dish that is also delicious, even for this self-avowed picky eater.
The first time I tried okra is one I can easily remember: Michael had procured some frozen okra at the store, and I was repulsed by its inherent sliminess. Much as is my wont when it comes to vegetables, I immediately dismissed it for reasons of grossness, set in my ways to reject any vegetable that wasn’t roasted–and even then, it could be a tough sell.
Leave it to our friends kalamazu and botticus to convince me otherwise. This side featured into the former’s birthday dinner up in Boston, and we’ve now enjoyed it twice since that trip. Even better–it’s SO easy to make and only requires a minimum of oil to cook; better yet, no formal batter aside from breadcrumbs is needed, because the natural sliminess of the okra is its own best adhesive.
To put it simply: