My current fixation with quick dinners has produced this gorgeously simple and spicy Salt and Pepper Hearts of Palm. Served with a fresh and sweet chilli soy sauce and steamed rice, my new favourite thing to eat packs a salty-spiced punch that may not be completely toddler friendly, but is perfect for date night.
Date night for us isn’t so much a date as getting to eat what we want after the Elf has gone to bed. It’s a big deal. Actually getting to choose what we eat rather than bending to the dietary whims of an opinionated three year-old. What’s more, we don’t watch Daniel Tiger. It’s not sexy but it is liberating. Like many of us, I admit to a need to prioritise the grown-up relationships in this house. It is a work in progress.
Date night dinners for us are quick to prepare and must lend themselves to being eaten sitting on a rug in our lounge room. The husband lived in Asia for many years and loves his spice so a perfect grown-up meal for him includes chilli and big punches of flavour. I love my spiced recipes too, but I like to moderate the spice myself. This salt and pepper hearts of palm with a clean and spicy dipping sauce is the perfect compromise and uses my new ingredient crush; hearts of palm.
Trolling my local international food store, I came across canned hearts of palm in the Mexican section and having no idea what to do with it, bought six cans. Hearts of palm are harvested from the core of the palm tree, a long fibrous cylinder running through the centre of the tree’s stem. While in the past harvesting destroyed the trees, many farms are now growing multi-stemmed palms, producing a sustainable product that doesn’t kill the palm tree. Fresh hearts of palm is difficult to source but it can be found readily in cans and tins. Typically used in salads, hearts of palm also grills beautifully, as in this recipe. It has a slight artichoke texture and taste but is lighter and being a cylinder, much easier to use.
While we’ve enjoyed many Mexican variations using the palm hearts, this salt and pepper dish with a spicy and fresh dipping sauce is by far my favourite. Lightly tossed in spiced flour and grilled, these vegetables become spicy little morsels that work perfectly with the sweet chilli soy dipping sauce.
Add fragrant steamed jasmine rice or a light Chinese cabbage slaw and you’ve got yourself a date night. Enjoy.
NB: For a gluten-free variation, substitute the plain flour for potato starch.
- 1 x 400 gram can hearts of palm
- 4 tablespoons flour or potato starch GF or cornflour
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oilChilli and Chive Sauce
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 1 x 2cm thumb of garlic finely grated
- 1 red chilli more or less to taste, finely chopped
- 1 shallot spring onion, greens and white finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- pinch sea saltSteamed Rice to Serve
- To make the sauce, mash the salt and the garlic together and then combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- Drain the hearts of a palm in a colander and slice the batons in to three, approximately 2.5 cm pieces.
- Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and toss the palm hearts through to coat.
- Heat oil in a fry pan or grill and grill the hearts until light and golden on each side.
- To serve, put a serving of steamed rice in a bowl topped with the hearts of palm pieces. Serve with a small bowl of the dipping sauce or pour a small amount over the finished dish.