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farmerstable8192020avocado

I have been saving a recipe for Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad for the time when I had all of the ingredients on hand. With cherry tomatoes, red onions and fresh cilantro in the garden, hearts of palm in the pantry, and avocados and limes in the fridge, I finally was able to create this fresh-tasting salad for a Sunday brunch.

The first time I tasted hearts of palm was during a week-long cooking school at the Greenbrier in the ‘70s. I immediately fell in love with this delicious, tender vegetable that is cut from the center of certain palm trees that are native to Central and South America.

For years, the harvesting process involved cutting down the palm trees and carefully removing the bark and other fibrous layers until only the tender heart remained. After years of over-harvesting wild hearts of palm, regulations were implemented that limited farmers to harvesting only multi-stemmed palms on farms designated to grow them.

Palm trees with only one stem die once the heart has been removed. By harvesting from multi-stemmed palms, the trees have a chance to regenerate over a few years, making them a more sustainable option.

Once the hearts are removed, they are cut into cylinders and packed in water or brine. They can be found in most grocery stores.

They have a delicate flavor, making them a perfect addition to a salad.

Hearts of palm are nutritional powerhouses. They are low in calories and high in fiber.

They are cholesterol free and they provide plenty of vitamins, too.

If you have never tried hearts of palm, now is the time to splurge on this unique ingredient while avocados and limes are inexpensive and tomatoes, onions, and cilantro are locally available.

Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 avocado, peeled and pitted

• 1/3 cup sour cream

• 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

• 2 teaspoons lime juice

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 1 can hearts of palm, drained and cut into ¼-inch rounds

• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

• Chopped, fresh cilantro for garnish.

Preparation:

In a small bowl, mash avocado with a fork. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice. and salt. Stir until mixture is smooth and blended. Cover and set aside.

To assemble salad: Place red onion slices in the bottom of a serving bowl. Top with hearts of palm slices and tomatoes. Place a mound of avocado dressing on top.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Serve immediately.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at mudriverpottery@aol.com or go to metrokanawha.com. Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.