When I was offered the chance to receive a tin of Hearts of Palm to review, I was keen to try out a new ingredient that we'd never tasted before. When they arrived, I realised that I had actually eaten them once, at my mother-in-law's house in Brittany, but that I hadn't known what they were !
Hearts of Palm are harvested from the inside of palm trees - or, in the words of the Jolly Green Giant (who obviously has a better way with words than me !), "Heart of Palm is the crunchy-creamy growing terminal bud from which all the new palm tree leaves will grow". They look like the white part of leeks and, although they probably are crunchy when harvested, they're actually squidgy and tooth-tender when you take them out of the tin. When you cut them up into slices, you can leave them as discs or - like onions - gently push the middle so that it separates into rings, which then look like the white part of boiled eggs or squid ! Guaranteed to get your kids tasting them because they won't have a clue what they are but probably won't think they're vegetables at first sight !
Just be warned though, if you tell your kids they'll be eating hearts of palm, they will get all excited then disappointed - Juliette was convinced they would be heart-shaped ! A bit of clever knifework could magically produce heart shapes but it's easier to warn them in advance that it's just the name !
Hearts of palm do have a delicate flavour of their own - sort of like tinned asparagus or artichoke hearts - but I find that they're a bit like tofu in that they tend to just absorb the flavour of whatever you're using them with. They can be eaten hot or cold, added to salads, served on their own with lemon juice or mayonnaise, or even added to pizzas, pasta and stir-fries.
They're low in calories (just 33 calories for 100g), fat-free, high in protein and fibre and count towards your five-a-day. I also love the environmentally-friendly aspect because the palms don't have to be chopped down to be harvested. The palm plants, which grow in South America, reach a height of 6 to 9 feet and can be harvested for years so some are actually over 20 years old. In addition to this, Green Giant use 100% cultivated palm to avoid destroying the forest.
If you want to give them a go but aren't sure what to do with them, here are some recipe ideas from Green Giant. Click on the recipes to get a bigger image :
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £1.98 for 410g
for more information : http://www.greengiant.co.uk/#/our_products/
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