Tag Archives: cayenne pepper

Pan-Seared Okra with Two Peppers & Minty Yogurt Dip

I love okra. I grew up eating it slow-cooked with tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and a pinch of sugar, the way my Turkish Nonna Eva made it. When braised, okra comes out somewhat slippery, and my husband (one of the many people who object to okra’s potentially mucilaginous texture) doesn’t like it prepared this way. So at home, when I crave okra, I serve it pan-seared or roasted. Roasted okra, while delicious, has a tendency to dry out if left in the oven just a few minutes too long. Pan-searing is far faster and yields delectably crisp-on-the-outside, soft-within okra.

Look for okra that is firm, unblemished, and heavy for its size. Rinse thoroughly, then cut off the pointed end at the top. Cut in half lengthwise, and lay on paper towels with the cut side facing down; the drier the okra is before cooking, the more easily it will brown in the pan. Serve this spicy okra with a cooling yogurt sauce for dipping.

Serves 2 as an appetizer or 4 as a side dish

For the dip:

  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried mint
  • 1 garlic clove, grated on a Microplane
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

For the okra:

  • 1/2 pound fresh okra, washed, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make the dip: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and taste for seasoning; adjust as needed, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.


Make the okra: Place the okra on a double layer of absorbent paper towels, cut side down, and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes to drain off excess water. Place in a large bowl and add the olive oil, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Toss well to coat evenly with the spices.

Place the okra, cut side down, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. It should all fit in a single layer, but if it does not, then cook it in 2 batches to avoid stacking the okra. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the other side is also browned, about 3 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed and serve hot or at room temperature, with the dip.


Corn & Scallion Fritters

Summer is corn season. We eat corn almost daily, usually just boiling it for 3 minutes, scraping it off the cob and savoring it plain, sprinkled with sea salt. But there are times I’ll hunger for corn soup or chowder, and times when a corn fritter beckons. Today was one of those days.

Almost anything is delicious in a fritter: boiled or raw vegetables; cooked grains; bits of savory meat; cheese and herbs… all benefit from a quick jump in a hot skillet with olive oil. But corn fritters are somehow even more addictive, perhaps because of corn’s natural juiciness and sweetness. Serve these fritters as a side to meat or fish, or with a lovely green salad as a starter. If you happen to be entertaining, they make perfect finger food as long as you make them no more than silver dollar-size.

Serves 2 as an appetizer

For the fritters:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1 ear fresh corn, kernels scraped
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To serve:

  • 2 packed cups baby greens, washed and dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place the egg in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the flour, beating vigorously with a whisk until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and thyme, and whisk again. Add the scraped corn kernels and scallions, and stir with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Set aside for no more than 10 minutes (if the batter rests too long, the corn may exude moisture and result in watery fritters).

To cook: Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over a medium-high flame for 2 minutes, or until quite hot but not smoking. Brush with half of the olive oil. Spoon in the batter, making 6 equal-sized fritters, spacing the fritters about 2 inches apart. Cook for 3 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Brush the tops with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and flip. Cook until the second side is also golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Remove to a plate.

To serve: While the fritters are cooking, toss the greens with the salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and then the olive oil. Toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Pile onto 2 plates. Top with the fritters and serve at once, before the fritters cool down and the greens wilt.