So you want something to go with that Peruvian chicken? Or maybe something to impress Mom on Mother's Day? After all, hearts of palm are really the heart of the palm tree. They are the inner core of various palm trees and are now cultivated so that the entire palm tree doesn't have to be destroyed for our enjoyment! And yes, some of us know them as swamp cabbages.
I'm not sure when I first ate them but I believe my mother used to extoll the virtues of this gourmet ingredient. I'm sure they were probably diced up and sprinkled on top of a Bibb lettuce salad and drizzled with a bit of vinaigrette. That is always a good way to go with hearts of palm. But this is better.
I don't know about you but I always seem to have one avocado laying around that needs a home. And I always keep a can of mandarin oranges in the pantry. When my kids were young they often ate them straight from the can. Cute little orange slices help make kids eat their food-even if it is a salad. Plus they are pretty. And colorful. And hearts of palm? Well, those are just a good pantry staple to have on hand. Let's face it. If company is coming, they help take a salad from ordinary to extraordinary.
If you haven't had hearts of palm, it is hard to describe how they taste. They are mild, and though they aren't crunchy, they do have a bite to them. They taste a teeny bit salty and lemony and are often used in place of artichoke hearts. Or vice versa. They have a rich mouth feel and I could eat them straight out of the can or jar. They have about 4g of protein and fiber in each cup, which isn't bad for a cute little swamp cabbage.
So now you know how this salad came about. That chicken was staring us in the face and it needed a salad. Have some hearts! Serve mom some hearts! And enjoy!
Hearts of Palm, Avocado and Orange Salad
Yield: 4 servings
1 T mayonnaise
1 T sour cream
6-8 drops Cholula hot sauce or your favorite
2 t fresh mint
1 T chopped cilantro
1/4 t salt
3 grinds of fresh pepper
1 c drained hearts of palm
1 can of mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
1 avocado, peeled and cut in chunks or slices
1 T minced red onion
Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, hot sauce, mint, cilantro and salt and pepper in a bowl. mix well. Add in sliced hearts of palm, drained oranges, and avocado. Stir in red onion. Toss well. Serve and enjoy something different!
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