In this cold weather with abundance of snow, it’s fun to taste a little bit of tropical warmth and sunshine. Hearts of palm is the perfect ingredient to add to dishes and salads. It is firm and tender, but subtle in taste, making it an ideal texture-forward ingredient for refreshing salads.
Hearts of palm comes from the interior of palm trees. The heart is bright white and tender and lies beneath the 5th layer of trunk within the tree. Today, this vegetable is farmed in Costa Rica and Hawaii within the USA. It also grows wildly throughout Brazil and so is a staple in the Brazilian diet.
An alternative to wild hearts of palm is a domesticated farm species called peach palm. Peach palm is the most widely harvested for canning. It is a multi-stem variety that grows as many as 40 stems per plant. Due to all the stems, harvesting in moderation does not kill the tree.
Hearts of palm is hand-harvested and takes extensive time to undertake because of the many layers of bark that must be removed to get to the tender heart. For this reason it is considered a delicacy. It is also nutritious, a carbohydrate with some protein and fibre and high in calcium and vitamin C. It adds such wonderful texture to dishes but is subtle in taste and so will let the other flavours within a dish take centre stage. It’s the contribution of texture to a dish.
This ingredient is mostly used in salads, but can also be incorporated into dips and sandwiches, pastas and risottos. Massa ao Molho deFrango e Palmito, known in English as Pasta with Chicken and Palm Hearts, is a Brazilian classic featuring this ingredient. Hearts of palm can be used has an affinity with ingredients like artichokes, avocados, tomatoes, chicken, shrimp, to name a few.
This salad sings with the tropical flavours of mango and lime, a wonderful interlude to our winter blues.
Here is the recipe:
1/4 cup of fresh lime juice
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) hearts of palm, drained, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper as needed
2 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 head Boston lettuce, washed and dried
In a bowl whisk together the lime juice and mustard. Set vinaigrette aside. In another bowl combine mango, onion, hearts of palm and half vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide lettuce among 4 plates. Top with mango mixture. Drizzle remaining dressing. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Suggested Wine: This salad has refreshing tanginess from the vinaigrette. Normally a crisp, white wine would be the idea companion to match this tanginess. However, because the mango is sweet, the salad requires an off dry white wine to match. Choose an off dry Riesling, off dry Gewurztraminer, white Zinfandel or off dry rose as a partner. I would choose Riesling from a cool climate to get that zinging acidity to match the fresh lime juice.
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Category: EVERYTHING FOOD AND WINE