Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

New delicious spins on the signature Southern veggie.

I love okra. As I write this, a tiny silver okra pendant hangs on a necklace around my neck. This simple little pod is my talisman, a reminder of my “Southernness” and my calling as a Southern chef and food writer.

This garden gem is integral to many of the rich, thick, and spicy gumbos of Louisiana. A pan of stewed okra and tomatoes screams summer from Texas to the Carolinas. Sizzling-hot fried okra has been scooped from black cast-iron skillets across the Deep South for many generations. Pickled okra, once a way to preserve the vegetable at the end of the season, now routinely bobs in martini glasses. As Southern cooking continues to evolve, that’s just the beginning.

WATCH: 5 Slime-Busting Tips for Okra

If we’re talking okra, we must acknowledge the elephant in the room: the slime. My top tips for minimizing okra’s naturally mucilaginous texture? Add tomato, lemon juice, vinegar, or some other acid when cooking. Also, cook it quickly over high heat, and don’t overcrowd the pan. The three delicious recipes that follow focus on this Southern jewel and these slime-busting tricks.

Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Okra and Chickpeas in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Southerners know that okra and tomato make a delicious pair, and this recipe adds chickpeas and plenty of seasoning for a light, flavorful side or main dish that’s ready in just 30 minutes. Get the recipe for Okra and Chickpeas in Fresh Tomato Sauce here.

Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Grilled Creole Chicken & Okra

In the South, Cajun seasoning and hot sauce have a reserved place at many tables. This Creole dish with chicken, Andouille sausage, and charred veggies makes a filling dinner that’s on the table in less than an hour. Get the recipe for Grilled Creole Chicken and Okra here.

Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Pan-Fried Okra with Cornmeal

Get delicious Southern fried okra in less than 30 minutes (sans deep fryer) with this easy six-ingredient recipe. Get the recipe for Pan-Fried Okra with Cornmeal here.