Roasting is a terrific way to cook okra. The high, dry heat of the oven concentrates the pods’ nuanced vegetal flavors and encourages browning reactions that create even more complexity. Heat also dehydrates the okra’s mucilage, so it becomes nearly undetectable.
Roasting is also simple by nature. My method starts with selecting pods that are similar in diameter (depending on the variety, okra can be elegantly long and thin or barrel-shaped and short, grassy green or burgundy, ridged or smooth, and straight or curved) so that they will cook at the same rate. Just lop off their caps and then split them lengthwise to expose their interiors, which are clustered with small round seeds.
After a quick toss with vegetable oil and salt, arrange the okra cut sides down on a baking sheet, and then seal them in with aluminum foil before sliding the assembly into a 425-degree oven. A steaming period prevents the pointed tips from withering and charring before the thicker upper sections turn tender. After 15 minutes, remove the foil and allow the flat surfaces of the okra to brown for about 10 minutes. The results are remarkable: tender, with graceful streaks of brown at the edges—and virtually absent of slipperiness. Serve the pods as a side dish with almost any entrée or offer them as finger food with a dipping sauce. Either way, they’ll disappear fast.