29 July 2007

Snobless Hearts of Palm

When I was about sixteen I was in a dance company and we performed at some sort of gala or season opening, I can't remember precisely. I do remember they decided it would be nice to feed the dancers after we performed with some of the fancy dinner food the guests paid for with their hundred-dollar tickets. One of the girls in the company was, to put it frankly, a bit of a spoiled snob. I think her parents had underwritten part of the gala. We sat down to our first course, a salad with hearts of palm. "Have you ever had hearts of palm," she asked me, and I admitted I hadn't. When I asked what they were, she scoffed, "oh, they're very fancy, I don't know if you'll like them." Even at that age I was known to be a bit of a gourmand and a good cook, and I was mortified at my own ignorance.

I actually did enjoy the hearts of palm, but I've stayed away from them ever since. Eating them seemed like embodying the food snob I did not want to be, one of those people who goes on about truffle oil. I only ever prepared them once, on Valentine's Day as part of a "three hearts" salad (hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, and hearts of romaine). The salad wasn't as good as it was gimmicky, and so I pretty much wrote them off. Plus, there's the added issue of how they're harvested.

This was all before I met the grilled heart of palm, my new best friend. Many vegetables do well on the grill, but hearts of palm provide a wonderfully neutral palate for the smokey taste of the grill. All you have to do is get some hearts of palm (surprisingly inexpensive for a "luxury" item), toss them with some olive oil and balsamic vingar, and put them on a grill. You'll want a nice smokey charcoal grill, to give them lots of flavor. The balsamic caramelizes, the hearts of palm are tender; do this at your next barbeque, and I promise you they'll be the star of the show.

Oh, and that girl? She's a lawyer and married now. But my hearts of palm are still pretty tasty.

Grilled Hearts of Palm
Where I come from hearts of palm always come in cans, but if you have access to fresh, use them.

2 cans hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
3 tbl olive oil, plus more for the grill
4 tbl balsamic vinegar

1. Prepare your grill, you'll want it very hot. Combine the oil and vinegar in a bowl, then add the hearts of palm and toss to coat. Rub the grill with a little oil, then grill the hearts of palm, about 3 minutes on each side, so that they get nice char marks. Serve.


SteamyKitchen said...

I don't think I"ve ever tasted fresh hearts of palm....I wonder where I can get them.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This is a total show stopper and I encourage you to put it up to Ilva and Joanna for their Heart of the Matter event as the theme is on the grill for August and this would be so perfect.See Joanna's post here
I this is looks wonderful.

Hilda said...

I love hearts of palm, but had never thought of having them grilled.
I've tagged you for a meme passed to me by Tartelette. Hope to see your cake soon too... =)

leonine194 said...

miam miam!

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding snobish....I can supply you with fresh hearts of palm. Actually I am a humble farmer importing fresh hearts of palm to the US from my family farm in Costa Rica. Please check out my website and send an email with any questions you may have about the product. Until recently I have supplied only restaurants through distributors, but I now have a very affordable shipping rate and can send palm to anyone in the US.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

She sounds all sorts of crazy - your typical dancer. I'm allowed to say that - I was one. I've never been a hearts of palm eater either, but the thought of the smokiness you get from grilling them sounds very tempting indeed!

Mercedes said...

Jaden- see the comment below!

Half Cups- Many thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into that!

Hilda- thanks, I'm afraid I never get around to memes.

Delite- you don't sound snobbish at all! I'd love to know about fresh hearts of palm, and I'm sure many readers would too, but you didn't leave your contact information! Please do so and I'd be happy to link to it in the post.

Figs, Olives, Wine- a fellow former dancer! Certainly not as crazy as my Russian ballet teachers.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm...I love all things grilled! How creative! Thanks for sharing this, and way to stay true to your un-snobby self. :)

You should submit this recipe to Recipe4Living.com!

Anonymous said...

it looks like delite's site is http://www.dekingofhearts.com/

He/she must have put it in the wrong field or something.