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East End Recommends: A Seasonal Side

Okra with Honey and Crushed Red Pepper

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It might not be a traditional side dish for the holidays, but with family in town with many meals to share, Chef Jes recommends giving this side a try. Now, whatever preconceived notions you might have of okra…we ask you let go and trust in the genius of Jes. These okra are by far the tastiest we’ve had..even some of our okra-fearing staff couldn’t put them down! So, before they are out of season, grab a couple pounds from the farmers market for a treat!
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Category: Side dish, starter, cheese plate partner
Servings: 4
Cost: About $15
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Special Equipment: Microplane or fine zester

This is one of my favorite effortless side dishes. It is almost no prep, cooks up in a flash and delivers full flavor that will compliment any main dish, any time of year.

Foods:
Whole Okra                         2#
Honey                                   3 Tablespoons
Crushed Red Pepper          1 teaspoon
High Heat Cooking Oil      3 Tablespoons
Toasted, Crushed Pecans  4 Tablespoons
Zest of an Orange
Salt                                         1 Tablespoon

Method:
Give your okra a nice bath and let it relax on a towel to dry. Leave it whole. Yes, whole. Do not trim the tops or cut it in any way. If you do, this method will not work! Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat; the pan should be large enough so that the okra can fit in a single layer. If you do not have one that large, make this in two batches.

When okra is dry, add oil and okra to the pan and begin to stir gently (the okra must be dry because hot oil and water will splatter and make for ouchies). Season with salt, continue to stir and keep that heat on. The okra will turn bright green, begin to soften, and then develop some light browning. When color begins to develop, add honey and red pepper flakes. Leave on heat for another 1-3 minutes so the honey can begin to caramelize. Dump okra directly onto serving dish, do not leave in pan or honey will become too sticky and burn. Top with pecans and orange zest and have at it!

*A recipe by Chef Jes Tantalo

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