What’s cooking today: Heart of palm salad
When exotic ingredients land in your lap thanks to a family holiday to Mauritius, new possibilities present themselves in the kitchen.
Cœurs de Palmier. Hearts of palm. A creamy white vegetable harvested from the inner core of a palm tree, most often the peach palm. In Mauritius the palm hearts are used in salads, often with a perky dressing containing fresh ginger, vinegar, lime, olive oil and the like.
I used ginger, lime juice, chilli, red wine vinegar and palm sugar, which comes in hard, compressed rounds and has to be chopped up on a board with a sharp, heavy knife. The vinegar offsets the sweetness of the palm sugar. I finished it off with lightly toasted tookmaria seeds, also given to me by my family after their visit. Basil seeds to you and me.
The coeurs de palmier arrived in a 400 g can in brine. They remind me of white asparagus spears, in a way, both in appearance and in texture, but they have a flavour profile all of their own. They slice cleanly and neatly, so I used rounds of them along with blanched young green beans and a really spiky dressing. We loved it, hope you do too. Look for cans of hearts of palm in speciality food stores.
1 x 400 g can of hearts of palm (coeurs de palmier)
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
16 young green beans, blanched and refreshed in iced water, then drained
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp palm sugar (that is, 1 tsp after the hard palm sugar has been rendered to sugar dust)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp cold water
A splash of Old Brown Sherry (yes, but just a little)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions (scallions/ green onions), chopped finely
2 pinches of tookmaria (basil) seeds, lightly toasted
2 cm fresh ginger, minced or grated
Slice the spring onions. Blanch the green beans in briskly boiling water, drain, refresh in ice water, and drain again.
For the dressing: Heat the sherry and red wine vinegar with 1 Tbsp water in a small pot. Add the crushed palm sugar and grated or minced ginger and bring to a simmer, then cook gently for 3 minutes and allow to cool. Stir in the olive oil and lime juice and the chilli and chopped spring onion.
Toast the tookmaria seeds.
Slice the pieces of palm heart into small rounds and lay them in a shallow salad bowl with the green beans. Drizzle the dressing over. Scatter tookmaria seeds on top. It has enough zing to brighten your day. DM/TGIFood
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