Baked and creamy—perfect for dipping and scooping.
I remember summertime days in Alabama, being little, watching Big Ma sit at a round, low-rise, wooden table with her sister, the both of them talking mess while they prepped a bowl of okra for frying.
She’d cut the tops off the raw okra by just holding one in her hands, pressing her thumb against the top and cutting up against her thumb with a paring knife, as if her thumb were a cutting board. I’d think about how thick her skin must’ve been for it to be able to come up against the edge of a blade without getting sliced open. Then I’d watch her as she’d bread and fry her okra to mask the sliminess from the starch inside. I’ve found that pairing it with something equally as gooey, like melted cheese, makes the texture just as easy to swallow.
- 8 okra pods
- 2 tablespoons 30 ml olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 shallot diced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 8-oz [228-g] package cream cheese, softened
- 1 ⁄3 cup 80 g plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons 28 g mayonnaise (optional)
- 1 teaspoon mild hot sauce
- ¾ cup 90 g shredded smoked Gouda, divided
- ½ cup 60 g shredded mozzarella
- Paprika for sprinkling
- Gooey cheese and gooey okra are an ideal match.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C or gas mark 6) and have two 8-ounce (228-g) ramekins or one 16-ounce (455-g) ramekin nearby.
- Trim the tops off the okra and slice them in half lengthwise and then again in half widthwise. Set them aside.
- In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the diced shallot, cooking until it softens a bit, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, the quartered okra and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the okra begins to soften slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise (if using), hot sauce, ½ cup (60 g) of the smoked Gouda, mozzarella and more salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the cooked okra and shallots, and then transfer the mixture to the ramekins.
- Sprinkle the tops with the remaining ¼ cup (30 g) of Gouda and paprika and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the top gets a little crusty. Makes 2 cups.