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Two Heart Salad

Two-Heart Salad Carries Love Through the Year

By Joan Namkoong

The ivory-white heart of the peach palm adds a soft crunch to salads and is delicious when sliced and sautéed in a little olive oil. I like foods that have a heart, that require a little stripping away of outer shells to get to their inner core.

Fresh hearts of palm bear little resemblance to their canned and brined siblings, which retain little of the delicate, nutty flavor. They come from the peach palm tree which grows along the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, where sunshine, rain and fertile soil are optimal for growing this South American native. As one palm tree reaches six to eight feet in height, it is cut and stripped of its outer layers to reveal its edible heart. One tree produces multiple stems that are managed for sustainability.

Lesley Hill and Michael Crowell of Wailea Ag Group grow peach palms, avocados, breadfruit, limes, Meyer lemons and other edibles on the Big Island. Lesley's daughter Micah brings the freshly harvested items to the KCC Farmers' Market every other Saturday.

For this salad I’ll combine sliced hearts of palm with Nalo Greens or baby romaine, dressed with a light Meyer Lemon Honey Dressing and topped with crunchy heart-shaped croutons. I actually prefer the thicker base portion of the heart of palm since it’s a bit firmer. I like to julienne-cut this portion and combine it with other vegetables for a crunchy salad. Or, as some chefs do, grill the hearts of palm first to add a smoky flavor, then slice and dress them.

Freelance food writer Joan Namkoong has helped organize several farmers' markets on Oahu and the Big Island. She's a believer in farmers' markets as sources for the freshest locally grown products as well as important components in building vibrant communities.

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