[Photograph: Brys Stephens]

I was one of those weird kids who always liked okra. Something about the snappy skin and pop of the seeds made me forget the slime and embrace the long, pointy vegetables. I did, of course, almost always eat okra breaded and deep fried, so maybe I just liked the salty, greasy crunch. Brys Stephens doesn't have any recipes for fried okra in his cookbook, The New Southern Table, preferring instead to roast, sauté, and simmer the vegetable. I was particularly intrigued by his Greek-inspired recipe that brings together okra, tomatoes, and briny feta cheese. Stephens adds punch to the okra itself by quickly pickling it with salt and red wine vinegar before simmering it in sauce and spiking it with the cheese and a flurry of minced fresh marjoram.

Why I picked this recipe: How could I say no to okra and feta cheese?

What worked: I appreciated how the vinegar and salt penetrated the okra, brightening their vegetal flavor. Plus, feta and tomatoes are the perfect pair.

What didn't: I thought the recipe was a bit heavy-handed with the marjoram, giving the dish a bit of a medicinal taste. Cut back to 1 teaspoon and add more if you're missing it.

Suggested tweaks: If you can't find fresh marjoram, you can substitute fresh oregano. The recipe makes four very large servings or 6 moderate ones. You should be able to cut the recipe in half if you're serving 3-4 people.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The New Southern Table to give away this week.


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