Friday, May 8, 2009

Recipe: Hearts of palm, avocado, celery & blue cheese salad

Hearts of palm are huge in Argentina. And I ate bucketloads of them when I was there. According to Wikipedia they used to be a delicacy back when they were harvested from wild palms. This has now changed with cultivation and now their namesake salad "Millionaire Salad" seems more like "Middle Class Salad" with fois gras, caviar and truffles bringing their posh asses to restaurant menus everywhere. A can at your local grocer should cost around 3 bucks. Their texture and taste is like artichoke meets asparagus. In Argentina they are often served with their version of Thousand Island dressing (ie: ketchup and mayo)
However I had one that made Thousand Island stay on the island. It was olive oil, walnuts, blue cheese, and celery. Drizzled with olive oil. Yeah baby. This is my version.

1 can hearts of palm (14oz, approx. 4 hearts)
1 1/2 cup diced celery (approx. 2 to 3 stalks)
1 diced avocado
3/4 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup toasted or caramelized walnuts
1 head butter lettuce

1/4 cup red wine or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon shallot minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Serves 8

Whisk vinegar, mustard, honey and oil in a bowl. Add shallots to dressing.
In a large bowl take the butter lettuce leaves and add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dressing to the salad. Using your hands (clean of course!) lightly massage the leaves with the dressing.
In a medium bowl combine celery and diced hearts of palm and avocado with 1/3 cup dressing and toss. You can either combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and add the blue cheese and walnuts to the top or I prefer to plate individually. So take one to two leaves and place on a plate and top with approx. 1 cup of the celery mixture inside the butter lettuce cup. Top with blue cheese and walnuts. Salt and pepper to taste. This is a serious FLAVOUR BURST.


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