The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy to make that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.
The first time I met okra, we did not get along. In fact, it took almost ten years until we were ready to meet again—and that was also a shaky encounter. It wasn’t until we had an unexpected third reunion, about a year ago, that we finally were able to hit it off. And that was because I had okra pickled.
That fateful encounter was impromptu. I was six months pregnant with my daughter and desperately craving pickles morning to night. But when I ran out of traditional dill pickles, the only ingredient I could use for DIY pickling at home was the fresh okra my partner had purchased from the farmers market just hours earlier.
My reluctance to reunite with okra was strong. While I am far from a picky eater, the texture of okra was never quite right for me even though I’d tried it sautéed, roasted, fried, and boiled. But in that moment, my need for a spicy sour dilly crunch greatly overpowered any hesitance. So I called up my partner, who is a professional chef and restaurant owner, to walk me through a simple and fast pickled okra recipe because, you know, pregnancy hunger is hangry hunger (times 100).
I used about 1 lb. whole fresh okra. I lined them in a couple mason jars as closely as I could with the stems facing upright, packing the containers to the rim. Next, I peeled 2 cloves garlic and added them to the jar along with 2 tsp. dill seeds, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and ½ tsp. whole black peppercorns. In a small saucepan, I brought 1½ cups white vinegar and 1½ cups water to a boil, then poured it into the okra-stuffed jars, leaving ¼” headspace at the top of the jar and sealing them tightly. I let them cool to room temperature, then stored them in the refrigerator, where they continued to get more pickle-y tasting, for about a month.
Equal parts crunchy and sour, the pickled okra was like no okra I had ever tasted before. To say I was pleased is an understatement—you would’ve thought I won the lottery. I mean, at six months pregnant, anything could have made me cry, but the fact that I overcame an aversion to a food I’d loathed since childhood was major. Now, I keep pickled okra in my refrigerator to eat on a regular basis. I love to add it to farro or quinoa bowls along with roasted sweet potato, fresh arugula, black beans, avocado, and/or roasted cauliflower. My daughter loves them, too, so that’s a big win in our home.
So, my apologies to okra, which I may have misunderstood the first two times I tried it. But hey, they say the third time’s a charm, right?