Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Wild Palms

Ensalada de Palmito Pibil
Heart of Palm Salad with Achiote

No, you are not looking at a weird dish of french fries... what you are looking at, is a weird dish of hearts of palm, served up as an amazing salad!

The first time I ate hearts of palm was in the USA, in the form of a "Millionaires Salad"- which is plainly the kind of thing that I of all people should be eating, haha. The only real memory I had of it was that it had a pleasant flavor and texture... and whilst shopping at the Asian supermarket on Saturday, I noticed it on the shelf (it is quite unusual here in Frankfurt) and decided to take a jar home with me...


Unusual as it may be as an ingredient for us Europeans, the actual taste of the palm heart is very mild and neutral... so of course I HAD to do something out of the ordinary with it! And who said that the stuff has to remain white, anyway?


For my salad this evening, I needed 1 jar of palm hearts, 1 mild Turkish pepper, half of a cucumber, the juice of 1 lemon and some fresh cilantro. Oh yes- and the ingredient that made this so wonderful and SO red- powdered annato or achiote as it is sometimes called.


Achiote, or annato, is so wonderful when combined with lemon or lime juice- it is mild, rich and aromatic and as pleasant tasting as it is vibrant colored!


Heart of palm has a consistency similar to that of water chestnuts- it has a mild crunch and is somewhat like mild radish, without the peppery flavor. It is simply crispy and refreshing-tasting.


I simply cut the heart of palm into sticks, just like skinny french-fries, cut the green pepper into rings and cut the cucumber into quarters, removed the seeds and then cut it into small slices.


What you can see in this picture is the juice of a whole lemon, to which I added half as much lemon juice- in the background is the achiote and chopped cilantro... these are the main flavors and will all be mixed together shortly...

... so to the lemon juice and oil I added a teaspoon of achiote powder, a tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro, salt and coarsely ground pepper.

Simply whisk the ingredients together and you are ready to marinate those palm hearts!


Once you have poured the dressing over the hearts of palm and have everything nicely coated, set it to one side in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, until all of those wonderful flavors soak in.


In the meantime, I marinated the peppers and cucumber in lemon juice, olive oil, honey and Turkish "pul biber" pepper flakes.


And after 30 minutes, I had these 2 great, refreshing a slightly exotic and refreshing salads ready to serve!


Dare to be different and have some fun with your food! There is nothing particularly challenging about these flavors- everything is pleasant and mild and almost guaranteed to please... so please- go ahead and enjoy!


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