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Friday, June 28, 2013

Hearts of Palm and a Salad

 Hearts of Palm, Black Bean, Red Onion and Corn Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing

Hearts of Palm and a Salad
by Victoria Challancin

Am I really gushing over a canned ingredient?  Is it possible?  Well, yes, it's true.  I love hearts of palm.  Love the taste, love the texture, love the many ways to use them.  If I had access to fresh hearts of palm, would I choose them over canned?  You bet.  But I don't, hence we have a post about a canned ingredient I actually love.

When my sister-in-law described a salad she enjoyed at a mutual friend's house, I decided to copy it for my class, knowing it would be both good and a useful recipe for my Mexican cooks.  I probably should have called Margaret for the original recipe, but decided to just make one up that I thought would work.  And it did.  And as a bonus, the leftovers were even better the next day.  And what a great dish for a cookout, a picnic, or a potluck.  

This is one of those flexible recipes where you can use whatever ingredients appeal:  other types of beans or pulses (garbanzos, pintos, kidney, lentils come to mind), tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, green onions, watercress, purslane, or perhaps add some grain such as burgul wheat, millet, or even quinoa or couscous.  You could also switch up the herbs by adding mint, parsley, and/or basil instead of or with the cilantro.  The possibilities are endless.

Often I have freshly cooked black beans on hand, but for ease I chose to use 2 pouches of cooked black beans that are quite tasty and preservative-free.  If you think you are seeing two types of corn, you are:  both fresh white and yellow sweet corns were used here; I simply boiled them for a couple of minutes on the cob, then allowed them to cool before cutting off the cob.  As with the beans, canned or frozen corn could be used, but fresh is just so much better if you have the option.

What Are Hearts of Palm?
Heart of palm, or palm heart, is a vegetable which is harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees.  Although wild varieties are available, the canned varieties have been adapted so that they can be harvested without killing the entire tree.  Because harvesting is labor-intensive, heart of palm is often considered a delicacy.

In addition to adding them to salads, how can you eat hearts of palm?  Check out these creative recipes:

  • Try them lightly dusted with spices and pan-seared (they look like scallops!)
  • Make fritters using almond and coconut flour and serve them with and avocado dipping sauce
  • This carpaccio of fresh hearts of palm has a dressing of mustard truffle oil
  • These hearts of palm fries are served with a Chipotle Mayo
  • On pizza?  Here they appear with shrimp and cheese atop a thin-crust pizza
  • This recipe uses them in a smoky shrimp and roasted red pepper dip atop crostini
  • Emeril Lagasse makes New Orleans-style beignets with hearts of palm and serves them with a Roasted Tomato Dipping Sauce
  • This salad with fanned avocados and hearts of palm has a beautiful presentation and comes from Tyler Florence
  • Here they appear in hearts of palm and mozzarella mini frittatas
  • This salad features citrus stone cram with hearts of palm
  • Interesting hors d'oeuvres show hearts of palm and radish coins as a base for shrimp
  • This Spinach 
  • Spinach Salad features grilled hearts of palm
  • In Brazil, hearts of palm appear as a filling for empanadas
  • Hearts of palm can be made into a Remoulade Sauce to be served with Crab Ceviche 
  • The previous link also gives a recipe for a baked gratin of hearts of palm
  • If you are lucky enough to have fresh hearts of palm, click here to see the procedure for preparing them
  • Click here for photos, ideas, and links to other inventive recipes using hearts of palms

Recipe:  Hearts of Palm, Black Bean, Red Onion and Corn Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)
Serves 6 to 8

For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
Zest of one lime
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves
1 serrano or Thai bird chile, stem and seeds removed, minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
1 can (14-oz) hearts of palm, drained
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked black beans (freshly cooked or canned--rinsed if using canned)
2 to 3 ears fresh corn, cooked and cut off the cob
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 ripe Haas avocado, cubed (optional)

To make the dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, and garlic.  Add the cilantro and chile, stirring to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Check and adjust seasoning to taste.  Set aside.

To make the salad:  Slice the hearts of palm on an angle, about 1/2-inch thick.  Combine the hearts of palm, red onions, black beans, corn, bell peppers, and green onions in a medium-large bowl and toss to combine.  Toss gently with the dressing.  Just before serving, add the avocados, if using.  Arrange on a platter or on individual salad plates.

Optional serving ideas:  Serve in butter lettuce leaves.

Parting Shot:  Moroccan Olive Oil Soap

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Please ask permission before using text or photos.  Thanks!


Hotly Spiced said...

I'm quite sure I've only eaten tinned hearts of palm too. What a lovely looking salad, Victoria. Great flavours there xx

Eha said...

Went 'huh' when I saw the title, because I have never had fresh hearts of palm 'to play with' either :) ! But what an appetizing and so healthy salad [even if it is cold here and is still pouring after 7-8 days of wet misery!] and SO many other ideas to use. Love the idea of pan-searing or grilling them! On another note, am fascinated by your Moroccan olive oil soap: does one just have a saucer of this brown mixture nect to the basin and dip one's hands to extricate a piece? Looks a wee bit messy :) !

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I haven't had hearts of palm for years but I've only seen them as a tinned ingredient. What a pretty colourful salad! :D

My Kitchen Stories. said...

Some great ideas for hearts of palm there. Strange that you dont see more of this ingredient. It is particularly maligned here, although I like them a lot. I havent seen them for a long time. Thanks for your lovely words when you visited me. Sometimes there are moments in a day that just heal you instantly x

Nancy/SpicieFoodie said...

I'm sure I've eaten them before but right now I can't recall the taste. Your salad looks so fresh and tasty. I think I would end up eating halve myself. Thanks for sharing, will look at the links too.

Alexander Melvin said...

Nice blog..! I really loved reading through this article... Thanks for sharing such an amazing post with us and keep blogging...Spices are used as a seasoning, adding flavor and color to a dish. I always used to buy spices wholesale from good brands.