Grilled Okra Is The Earthy Addition To Elevate Your Pasta Salad

When the sun comes out and the days get longer, it signifies the commencement of okra season. The vegetable can be boiled, steamed, fried, or baked — as long as it's cooked well, we're happy. For a uniquely delicious way to prepare okra, try grilling it to upgrade another warm weather staple: pasta salads.

Initially okra has a crispy bite, but once you're past that the slime comes out, which often puts people off the vegetable. This is why roasting and pan frying okra tend to be popular methods — they maintain the crunchy exterior while reducing the mucilage within. Grilling has the same effect with a much more impactful flavor. By delivering a slightly sweet taste from the caramelization that occurs, grilling okra produces a crispy, smoky vegetable that is the perfect accent to your pasta salad.

Start with fresh okra, chop off both ends and toss the vegetables in olive oil to amp up the grassy taste. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add in a few bolder spices like paprika, onion powder, and cumin. Okra is a relatively small vegetable, so to grill it with ease, place several pieces on a kabob skewer. Flip the skewer after two minutes or once the okra begins to brown around the edges. Once it's cooled down, chop up the grilled okra and add it to your pasta salad.

What pasta salad ingredients pair well with grilled okra?

With okra having a milder taste, it has the ability to pair with almost any pasta salad ingredient. Since it's earthy, we recommend using it to ground tangier foods. A veggie antipasti Italian pasta salad is filled with olives, vinegar, lemon zest, and red onions. Some slightly charred okra brings not only a delicious crunch, but a homey flavor to temper the sourness.

If you want okra to be the tangy one, try grilling the vegetable before pickling. The two-step method locks-in the rich, caramelized flavor before it's infused with a bright, piquant taste, making it a great addition to a creamy Caesar chicken pasta salad. Like briny capers in a chicken Caesar, the grilled and pickled okra delivers a vinegary flavor with a hint of sweetness. When pickling, season the okra with bright herbs like thyme, basil, and mint.

Grilled okra is great in a creamy chicken pasta salad, so it's bound to be incredible in this Southwest-style recipe. Here, the grilled okra would be accompanied by another smoky flavor from the chili peppers in adobo sauce, which brings a fiery heat to the mild veggie. Amid a colorful sea of tangy red onions and grape tomatoes, creamy avocado, and sweet bell peppers, grilled okra fits right in.