Hearts of palm. What the heck are they? I’ve always liked them. My father used to like them and served them on special occasions. I’m sure my parents thought they were exotic. They are canned – I don’t use very many canned items but this one has piqued my interest again. I have never seen them fresh but maybe they’re only sold fresh in more tropical areas. Remove them from the can, drain, and rinse. Only buy the full spears and slice. I think they add interest to a simple green salad and make it really different.
So I looked them up and found out that they are a vegetable harvested from the soft core of a palm tree! They are very low in cholesterol, a good source of protein, riboflavin and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese. Who knew? They’re even good for you!
Now this is the sad part. Many wild species of palm serve as sources for hearts of palm, including coconut palms, Acai palms, and sabal palms. Unfortunately, the harvesting process kills these trees, because they only have one stem, and extracting the inner core essentially destroys the plant. In response to this issue, several palms have been domesticated and bred specifically for production of this vegetable. These trees have multiple stems, allowing farmers to harvest the hearts while allowing the rest of the tree to live. Thank goodness!
But most importantly, this simple salad is really refreshing and delicious. I also used the roasted almonds I talked about a few posts back. I hope you LOVE it as much as my husband and I did!
HEARTS OF PALM ON A RED LEAF LETTUCE SALAD – serves 2 as a first course
1/3 of a head of red leaf lettuce, washed and spun dry
2/3 of a can of hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, patted dry and sliced
2 small tomatoes, cut in wedges
12 roasted and salted whole almonds, cut in half
Arrange torn lettuce leaves on a salad plate. Place sliced hearts of palm in the middle. Arrange tomato wedges around the hearts of palm. Sprinkle chopped almonds on top. Drizzle on salad dressing. Serve immediately.