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Food for Thought: Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Hearts of Palm: mysterious and delicious.

If you work at a trendy wine shop in the East Village, you are bound to brush shoulders with some of the movers and shakers of the city and beyond. Matt Dillon once graced the store and proceeded to lick cheese off my coworker’s knife while his girlfriend strolled around the store looking for something “with a lot of fruit and some kick to it.” One of the more interesting and fulfilling encounters I’ve had at the shop has been with Food Network chef Aaron Sanchez. Restaurant owner, author, consultant and co-star of Food Network’s popular, Chefs vs. City, Chef Sanchez is one of the leading contemporary Latin Chefs in NYC and a regular shopper at Alphabet City Wine Company. We began talking about food and I eventually asked him to give me some simple, yet refined, recipes to impress and make one’s heart happy. He got back to me last week with three recipes. All of them, fittingly, use ingredients indigenous to Latin America.

Chayote

The first one I will share is Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad. You might be asking yourself (as I did), “what the heck is a chayote?” Chayote is a tropical trailing vine which produces fruits. Although, it is treated more like a vegetable than a fruit; think of it as the summer squash from Latin America. Also known as Mexican Squash, vegetable pears, and Christophine – among other names – chayote can be enjoyed both cooked and raw. When lightly cooked it retains a nice crispiness; while raw chayote is usually added to salads or salsas. For this particular recipe the chayote is lightly cooked and then added into a salad. Enjoy!

Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 pound chayotes (also called mirlitons; 4 medium)
  • 2 (14 to 15 – ounce cans hearts of palm, not salad-cut), rinsed well and drained
  • 2 large celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Print a shopping list for this recipe

Preparation:

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt using side of a large heavy knife. Whisk together lime juice, oil, and garlic paste in a large bowl, then add onion, tossing to coat.

Halve chayotes lengthwise, then peel with a vegetable peeler and scoop out pits with a spoon. Cut chayotes crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices then halve slices lengthwise to make 1/3-inch-thick sticks (sticks will not be uniform). Cook chayotes in a 4 to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp/tender. It should be about 6 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then, while still hot, toss with dressing. Cool to room temperature.

Cut hearts of palm diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then add to chayote mixture along with celery, parsley, cilantro and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently toss.

Enjoy!