Heart of palm may sound like an odd name for a vegetable, but actually, it’s quite descriptive. This vegetable comes from the inner core of some varieties of palm trees.
While looking like asparagus stalks, heart of palm tends to taste a little more like artichokes. Overall, they have a mild flavor with hints of grass, nuttiness, and sweetness. The texture is crunchy when raw and whole, but can also have a creamy or shredded texture.
Somewhat like jackfruit, heart of palm has been gaining in popularity lately due to its meat-like texture when shredded.
Fresh Vs Canned Heart of Palm
Whether heart of palm is fresh or canned will have a stark effect on its taste and texture.
Fresh Heart of Palm
Fresh heart of palm is tender. They are crunchy when raw and creamy when cooked, a little like fennel. When you shred them, they tend to take on a meaty texture.
If you can find fresh heart of palm, they are definitely the better option.
Canned Heart of Palm
While fresh heart of palm is superior to the canned version, often it’s the only way to get heart of palm. It’s fairly easy to find canned or jarred heart of palm in your grocery store.
They are usually steeped in brine, which gives them a much saltier flavor than when fresh. In addition, they rarely have the good crunch that fresh hearts of palm have.
However, one of the benefits of canned heart of palm is that they are easy to toss into a food processor. They are usually pre sliced, and doing this gives them a lovely creamy consistency.
How to Eat Heart of Palm
Heart of palm is most often eaten in salads, as a dip, or as a meat or fish substitute. Try them and see which way you like them best.
Most often, it is fresh heart of palm that goes into a salad since they are usually used for their crunchy texture.
However, if you only have jarred or canned, we can work with that. To get as much of a crunch out of them as you can, drain them, rinse them, and dry them. Once they are dry you’ll get a bit more of a crunch than you would otherwise.
Adding these to salad gives them a nice nutty flavor.
One of the more inventive ideas on how to use heart of palm is to make mock fried calamari out of it.
For this, you’ll need to cut the heart of palm into rings and pop out the center. Don’t worry, it’s simple.
Then, you can cook them exactly the same as you would regular calamari. The texture of the heart of palm holds up well and is very similar to cooked squid. You also get a nice buttery, sweet flavor that is delicious.
As a Dip
Using heart of palm to make a dip is fairly simple. Since they get a nice creamy texture when smashed, they have a great dip consistency.
They tend to have a bit of the same texture that artichoke dip has. It’s creamy with some pieces of vegetable in it.
To make this simply throw your heart of palm in a food processor and add whatever additions you like. Two popular ones are a cheese blend and one that mimics a hummus.
Using heart of palm in dips not only gives you a great creamy texture but has a great buttery flavor.
As a Meat Substitute
Jackfruit often gets high praise for its ability to mimic meat in various dishes. However, heart of palm is on its way up.
Jackfruit is often used as a substitute for pulled pork. However, heart of palm is most popular for being used in crab cakes and other fish dishes.
Since heart of palm is often kept in a liquid, shredding them is fairly easy. So much so, that you can probably even do it with your fingers. No utensils are required.
Once shredded, the hearts of palm have a texture similar to shredded meat. You can now use them for pulled pork, or in a taco, or as popularized, in a crab cake.
Heart of palm has a taste similar to an artichoke. It’s slightly nutty, slightly sweet, and has a bit of grassiness to it.
When fresh and raw they have a wonderful crunchy texture. However, when broken down or blended, they produce a creamy consistency that is great for dips. In addition, you can shred them to be used as a meat substitute.
Heart of palm is much more versatile than most people give it credit for. What else can be used in a salad, to make fish dishes and as a dip for chips?