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bulgar wheat

Roasted Okra, Tomato and Garlic Pilaf



If there was ever a veggie I hated when I was a kid, it was okra. Okra and parsnips, the latter of which I could still go without. But that’s another story.

Okra is a strange character. A little seedy and a bit of slimeball, it’s the kind of veggie you don’t want to mess with on the wrong side of the stove. Treat it wrong, and likely it will treat you wrong back.

Handle it right, however, and I’ve learned it can actually become a new friend. One you may just fancy inviting onto your plate.

Roasted Okra, Tomato and Garlic Pilaf

Human friends and veggie friends alike, they say you get less narrow-minded as you get older. Perhaps that’s been the case with okra. I’m not entirely sure if my change in opinion is primarily a result of my little kid tastebuds growing up, or the new cooking methods I’ve been using. Regardless, I don’t think I’ll ever mess around with any steaming or stewing of okra again. My parents did this one too many times for me to conclude I’m not a fan, even in my old and tastebud-mature age of 23. (Right.)

Okra releases slime when it cooks. Makes it sound so appetizing, right? However, there are ways to reduce this, including cooking them whole and roasting them in the oven. Frying isn’t a bad option either, and as Ree Drummond reveals, you could even eat okra without cooking the pods at all. Who knew? I can’t wait to try a raw version the next time they’re in my kitchen.

Here, I threw the okra in the oven with some garlic to sweeten things up and tomatoes, since ’tis the season for those. It’s a simple preparation that makes a nice meal or side with the addition of bulgur wheat, a traditional tabbouleh staple.

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Tropical Tabbouleh

I’d like to call this the tabbouleh form of Funfetti. Although, the red, green and yellow dots are all sourced from natural ingredients—AKA, you don’t need artificial food coloring to create this beautiful dish.

Once the picnic seasons arrive, my family is always churning out tabbouleh from the kitchen. Originally, we were some of the few vegetarians at friendly outdoor gatherings. My mom knew that if she wanted to fill us up on something other than the red-and-white checkered paradise of chips and cookies, she’d have to bring a substantial meat-free dish. Tabbouleh was her go-to. With at least two kids always keeping her busy, tabbouleh was one of the quickest dishes she could make. It also made use of the mint she was always yelling about for seizing all the space in her garden.

The mint is what keeps tabbouleh feeling fresh, even in the balmy, mid-summer heat that seems to have approached us rather quickly. It’s also the perfect compliment to the pineapple that gives this tabbouleh a tropical twist. I love pineapple in savory-styled dishes, and while it doesn’t quite make this one taste like birthday cake, I’d like to think it’s equally as fun to eat.

Click here for recipe…