summery okra & quinoa pilaf (oil-free)

summer okra and quinoa pilaf -Allyson Kramer

This easy and healthy dish screams “summer!” with its melange of tender okra, ripe cherry tomatoes, and fresh garden herbs. The water-saute method of cooking the veggies keeps it on the lighter side of things, making it a perfect dish to bring along to warm-weather potlucks.

Recipe Notes:

  • Seek out small, bright green, okra pods for best flavor and texture.
  • If you make a bit too much to eat in one go, this dish also freezes very well. Just place over medium heat on the stovetop, adding a touch of vegetable broth to thaw.
  • If you’re not a huge fan of heat, but love flavor, omit the cayenne pepper and cut the black pepper by half.
  • If you don’t have pre-cooked quinoa handy (I like to make a big batch and freeze the excess for times like these), then prepare quinoa before the rest of the recipe. To cook 3 cups quinoa, simply bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan. Once boiling, stir briefly and then cover, reduce heat immediately to low and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until fluffy and all water is absorbed.

Summery Okra & Quinoa Pilaf

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa, salted lightly
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 15 small okra pods, sliced into rings
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup additional water
  • 1 teaspoon additional sea salt
  • 12 (about 2 cups) cherry tomatoes


In a large frying pan over medium high heat, combine onion, garlic, celery, salt, and 1/4 cup water and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Toss in the okra, oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup water and 1 teaspoon sea salt.

Reduce heat to medium heat and let cook, covered, until okra is soft and the water has been absorbed, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and add in the cherry tomatoes and let cook until their skins are wrinkly, but not overcooked, about 2 minutes. Toss gently with cooked quinoa and serve hot.


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10 Responses to summery okra & quinoa pilaf (oil-free)

  1. Lovely! I’d add even MORE heat, because I love that. I’ve never had okra that wasn’t deep fried, so it’d be cool to experiment with it in this way.

  2. Amanda says:

    What a nice way to use okra! :-)

  3. Vegyogini says:

    I really like okra, but I must say I don’t think I’ve ever cooked it myself. Grain-based summer salads are a perfect way to celebrate the warm weather!

  4. Maria Tadic says:

    This looks so good! Did you notice if the okra got slimy at all? I always seem to have that problem! Any tips?

  5. Sarojini says:

    Looks wonderful :)It just so happens we bought some quinoa the other day, and I’m thinking of adapting this for our homegrown tomatoes and courgettes when they finally ripen! I’m a new follower btw, and just getting to look around your site- it’s great. Do drop by ours and take a look- the recipes have been vegan since 2011, and even the earlier ones do not contain egg.

  6. This sounds lovely!! What a fabulous recipe :)

  7. Jessica says:

    I am intrigued by okra but I’m ashamed to admit I have never cooked with it. This recipe looks delicious though…can’t wait to try it!

    • allyson says:

      Thanks, Jessica! And nothing to be ashamed of–it took me a while to discover okra as well, but am I ever glad I did! :) I hope you enjoy it.