I can only imagine how many terrible childhood okra stories are out there… slimy, mushy, overcooked dramas that line the plates of discontent. That’s why I like to throw okra around my kitchen and see who runs away first. Honestly though, while most people carry these dreadful vegetable experiences around for a lifetime, I prefer to hang with adventuresome eaters who climb the mountain of plant phobias by eating their way through food fears.
That said, my experience tells me the best way to make amends with strange vegetables tend to be when they change their guises and make an appearance in something familiar like a cute tartelette. Anyone who runs away from a tart doesn’t deserve to eat animals because these tarts are mostly harmless – however, I put serrano peppers in them, so they might kick you a bit when you bite into them. There’s also a lot of corn in this recipe – it’s corny in all the ways you’d want it to be really – a corn crust you don’t have to pre-bake and fresh corn kernals!
Earlier this summer I had a great time grilling okras, but I also eat them raw as often as I can find them. Chilled, raw, and tender! Young, uncooked okras are less slimy this way and their crunchy greenness is refreshing compared to typical gumbos and fried okras. Additionally, my favorite sushi restaurant in this city, Ryoko, serves the best okra tempura. It’s so perfect, I don’t bother trying to make my own.
This recipe was inspired by Maria Speck’s Artichoke-Rosemary Tart and uses the same crust.
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 ts. salt
1 1/4 c. polenta or coarse grits
1/2 c. shredded parmesan ~ 2.5 oz
1 large egg, @ room temperature
1/4 ts. freshly ground pepper
1 c. yogurt
2 oz. goat cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 ts. salt
1/4 ts. freshly ground pepper
2 TB cilantro
1 corn on the cob, removed from cob and steamed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 serrano, thinly sliced
1 c. tender young okras shorter than 4″, sliced @1/4″
+ Make the crust by bringing the water and broth to a boil. Add salt and dissolve. Slowly pour in the polenta in a thin stream while whisking for 30 additional seconds. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring at least every two minutes to prevent sticking.
+ Turn off heat completely and cover polenta for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese, egg, and pepper.
+ Grease your mini tart pans with olive oil or give it a liberal spray of non-stick spray. Dip your wooden spoons in water and distribute evenly between 7* mini tart pans (I just did two batches using 4 pans) – this is about 2.5 TB of polenta per tartelette. Press the polenta evenly onto the bottom of the tart pans.
+ After 15 minutes, fill a bowl with a bit of water to wet your fingers and press the polenta into the sides and bottoms creating an even crust. This part is messy, tedious, and rather fun.
+ Create the custard by mixing together yogurt, cheeses, egs, salt, pepper, corn and cilantro. Pour the blended custard into the tart pans, leaving a 1/2″ gap from the crust’s top. Distribute three slices of serrano peppers per tart and fill in the remainder the raw okras and slices of scallions.
+ Preheat oven to 325 °F and bake tartelettes for about 10 minutes, or until the custard is firm.