I’ve just arrived in Australia after 2 months in Brazil. It is great to be back to Tassie to enjoy the spring time; I simply love this time of the year, days are starting to get longer and my garden has started to blossom! The colours and smells are amazing!
I am very excited with the fact that the new season brings new fresh Tasmanian produce that I can use in my recipes. Here is picture showing what the incredible Salamanca market can offer in terms of vegetables. Impossible not to get super keen to go to the kitchen and cook with these beauties!
Well, since spring is here I thought I should make a garden salad which is a dish that is light, refreshing and has everything to do with this pleasant time of the year. Brazilians are very fond of hearts of palm and one of the best ways to eat them is in salads. Hearts of palm add a great touch to garden salads, making them go from ordinary to something very special. It is my second recipe here using this vegetable (see Creamy Heart of Palm Soup) which is a white cylinder removed from the core of some palm trees. For many years hearts of palm were harvested illegally in South America out of native trees that would die after the removal of its core. In recent years though a sustainable species of hearts of palm called pupunha has been popularised and now these plantations are the main source for the preserved hearts of palm industry.
In Brazil, preserved hearts of palm are eaten plain, in salads, soups, risottos, omelettes, or usually added to tomato based sauces that are used as fillings of pies and pastries. The fresh vegetable can be used the same way and is also commonly barbecued, brushed with a little bit of butter and seasoned with salt and pepper – making it so simple and heavenly and a perfect match to eat with grilled meats. Perhaps you can try to be a chef for a day and copy the recipe by Alex Atala, who once again cleverly reinvented the way a Brazilian ingredient is used. He simply decided to julienne the hearts of palm and created a very subtle carbonara sauce to go with it. Voilà! A new kind of ‘pasta’ emerged in Brazil. Hearts of palm are simply divine with smoked meats too and that is why Alex’s carbonara is so special.
Incredibly, it is very easy to find preserved hearts of palm in Hobart, they are sold in jars of 410g at the Food Store grocers. The first time I saw them there I got so excited and scared at the same time thinking that I would not be able to see them again in the shelves, so I bought the whole stock from the shop!!! About 10 jars, yes. The lady behind me in the queue for the counter got so intrigued (with the exaggerated quantity, I must say) and asked what that was and what I how I was going to use it! I said they were delicious in salads and pies! But you don’t need to get desperate as I did because now they are also available online in Australia in case you don’t find it at your local gourmet shop. By the way, this is how the preserved hearts of palm can look like. It is a picture I took of a shop specialised in selling only hearts of palm at Mercado Municipal market in Curitiba. Happy Springtime!
18 assorted colourful baby carrots, whole
410g hearts of palm*
1 baby cos lettuce, leaves picked
200 g baby peas, cooked
250 g cherry tomatoes, whole
100g snow pea sprouts
4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs lime juice
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tbs dried oregano
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
*Available from the Food Store grocers (Hobart) or online
1. Steam or cook the carrots for about 1 minute, place them in a bowl with ice water to stop the cooking process then drain.
2. Drain the hearts of palm and cut them into a different shapes (for example diagonally, sliced and into battons). In a salad bowl mix the hearts of palm with carrots, lettuce, peas, snow pea sprouts and tomatoes. For the dressing, place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them to emulsify.
3. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine.