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Eating for Life | Hearts of Palm Salad With Rémoulade Dressing

Dress up tender spring mix greens with French-inspired ingredients.

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star

Editor’s Note: this column originally ran May 6, 2006 and is one of the recipes in “The Eating for Life Cookbook” available at thekansascitystore.com.

Depending on how you dress it up, a lettuce salad can be ho-hum or ooh-la-la!

The Star’s Hearts of Palm Salad With Rémoulade is an example of thinking outside the typical salad bar standbys.

If you’ve never tried hearts of palm, the ivory-colored, tube-shaped stalks are the tender center cord of the cabbage palm or palmetto, the state tree of Florida. Hearts of palm can range from pencil thin to 1 1/2 inches thick, and they taste like a cross between asparagus and artichokes.

Although not inexpensive (depending on size, anywhere from $3.50 to $5 per can or jar), the ingredient can really make a salad special. Look for them in the canned vegetable aisle of well-stocked supermarkets.

Nearly half of the hearts of palm imported into the United States are harvested wild from the rain forests of Brazil, but you can also buy cultivated varieties grown in Peru, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Not to be confused with the highly saturated fat known as palm oil, hearts of palm contain zero fat and cholesterol. They are low in sodium and rich in iron, phosphorous and potassium. A 1/2-cup serving has just 20 calories.

Since the French are hearty consumers of hearts of palm, it makes sense to pair them with a classic rémoulade sauce made of mayonnaise, mustard, capers, chopped gherkins, herbs and anchovies and frequently served with meats, fish and shellfish. Our version is a delicious mix of light mayo and mustard (a condiment naturally low in calories) with the added flavor and nutrition of roasted red peppers and celery.

• Shopping tip: Creole mustard is available online and in many larger supermarkets. If you can’t find it, choose a spicy brown mustard instead.

• Cooking tip: Hearts of palm are stored in a solution of salt, citric acid and ascorbic acid, so it’s a good idea to rinse them before adding them to salad.

• Storage tip: Hearts of palm are typically sold in glass containers and metal cans. After opening a can, transfer the vegetable to an airtight, nonmetal container. Refrigerate any leftover stalks in their own liquid for up to a week.

• Pump it up: To learn more interesting tidbits about the processing, production and sustainability of hearts of palm, go to napoleon-co.com and edwardandsons.com.

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