This quick and simple Hearts of Palm Salad will be a hit at your summer table! Serve it as an appetizer, a side dish for grilled meat or as a light meal, topped with protein.
Whenever the weather gets warmer, I start craving flavors from back home.
This week, my tropical self was itching for some hearts of palm! So I headed to the store, skeptical of my chances of finding some, and – to my surprise – came home with quite a few cans.
Oh, I can eat them straight from the can! And while I did snack on one or two, I mostly had to behave, as they are all spoken for.
First stop: this beautiful and satisfying hearts of palm salad. To which I added juicy cherry tomatoes, black olives and a little basil. Tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and served over green leaf lettuce.
Call it exotic, to me this tastes like home!
What are hearts of palm and where to buy them?
Hearts of palm are a staple in Brazilian cuisine, used in dishes ranging from salads to pies and empanadas.
Called palmito in Portuguese, a heart of palm is the tender inner core of a palm tree. Cylinder shaped and white in color, they are commonly found in the canned vegetables aisle of your grocery store, usually in cans or jars. I have yet to find them fresh, even down in Brazil!
If you’ve never tried one, you might be asking yourself how do they taste like. Well, to me, they have an unmistakable hearts of palm taste – delicate, salty (from the brine), creamy and slightly nutty – but Americans often describe it as tasting similar to artichokes.
They are low calorie and becoming increasingly popular among low carbers. I’ve seen it used to make faux pasta and faux potato salad.
In Brazil we use them in healthy and not so healthy dishes. Salads, soups, empadinhas, pastel, pizza, risotto and many more. They are truly versatile!
Ingredients for Hearts of Palm Salad
This memorable salad features the following:
- hearts of palm
- cherry tomatoes – What is summer without tomatoes?
- black olives – I found these little pitted ones at my store’s olive bar. Aren’t they cute?
- fresh basil
- green leaf lettuce
These ingredients come together creating a bright and fresh salad. And they don’t need fancy dressing, a simple balsamic vinaigrette works great here!
How to serve Hearts of Palm Salad
This salad works for pretty much every occasion. Serve it on a big platter, as a family-style side dish at your barbecue or cookout, or plate it individually for a fancy first (or last, depending on when you like to serve salad) course.
It’s also a great appetizer, served alongside some toasted French bread. Almost like a hearts of palm bruschetta/crostini! (And here’s an idea for a future recipe.)
In our house, it has been making an appearance as a light lunch, topped with grilled chicken! Healthy but delicious and satisfying!
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Yes! You can slice the hearts of palm and tomatoes, assemble the salad and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated separately.
When ready to serve, drizzle with the dressing and go to town!
As it’s the case with virtually every salad, once it is dressed, it won’t keep well in the fridge. So try to only dress as much salad as you’re going to eat, immediately before eating it.
In Brazil, it is rare to see salads served dressed. They are often served with the dressing on the side, so guests can do it themselves!
For the Hearts of Palm salad:
- 2 (14oz) cans hearts of palm, drained and sliced
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and dried
- Fresh basil, to taste
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly, until fully emulsified. Store in a jar with lid until ready to serve.
- Assemble the salad: Arrange the lettuce on a large platter. Top with the hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, olives and fresh basil.
- Serve: When ready to eat, toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 223