Recipe Name

from Guest blogger: Chris Smith
of Sow True Seed

Listen to his podcast HERE

The following recipe is from Chris Smith’s book The Whole Okra: A Seed to Stem Celebration (Chelsea Green Publishing, June 2019) and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Chef Clark Barlowe is a creative cook, serving meals in his restaurant, Heirloom NC, using produce grown or foraged in North Carolina. As a believer in zero waste, he has gained a reputation as the kitchen-scrap aficionado. This recipe reflects his talent for turning something most farmers would compost (overgrown okra pods) into a gourmet meal. The special touches that Barlowe adds include wild foraged sumac (it grows almost weed-like in North Carolina, but can easily be sourced online), olive oil from Georgia, and lemon balm that grows near the back door of his restaurant.


1⁄2 cup (48g) cucumber slices

2 tablespoons fresh lemon balm

1⁄2 cup (70 g) feta

2 cups (200 g) immature okra seed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1⁄2 teaspoon sumac

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

16–20 small lemon balm leaves, for garnish


Slice the cucumber thinly on a mandoline. Chiffonade (finely cut) the fresh lemon balm. Combine the lemon balm chiffonade, feta, and sliced cucumber in medium- sized mixing bowl. Toast the okra “couscous” on medium heat in olive oil for 2–3 minutes or until heated through. Combine the okra with the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss to combine. Season with sumac, salt, and black pepper. Garnish with small lemon balm leaves.

Serve warm.

About this author:

Chris Smith is a garden writer and homesteading consultant who serves on the board of Slow Food Asheville. When he is not okra-ing he can sometimes be found at Sow True Seed, an Asheville-based open-pollinated seed company. The Whole Okra is his first book. Find out more at

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