One of my favorite salads to make during citrus season is this Hearts of Palm Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit. The flavor and texture combination of the sweet-tart grapefruit, creamy avocado, and crisp, vegetal hearts of palm is just so satisfying. If it seems like you haven’t seen canned hearts of palm since the 60s, yes, this is a little bit of an old school dish. But once you try it, I think you’ll agree it’s worth adding to your repertoire. I keep a can of hearts of palm in my pantry for when citrus is in season, and there’s a nice-looking avocado at the market.
By the way, this is not an everyday salad for me, as I’m trying to consider the environmental implications of everything I eat. I loooove avocados, but they fly long distances to get to Europe and so have quite a large carbon footprint. And, they require more water to grow than many other crops—often in areas that have a scarcity of water. As the popularity of avocados has grown dramatically recently (I’m looking at you, avocado toast), avocado production is growing—and in some regions, deforestation along with it. 😩 As for hearts of palms, I’m happy to report that most jarred hearts of palm are now cultivated in a sustainable way (see below), but unsustainable wild harvesting still exists. So make this salad more of a special occasion salad—say to toast the end of citrus season and beginning of spring?
How Do You Make Hearts of Palm Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit?
For this recipe, you’ll learn how to “supreme” a grapefruit. This is a cheffy term for cutting out just the flesh of a citrus fruit. To begin, use a sharp knife to cut off the very top and bottom of the grapefruit rind. Then, starting at the top, cut around the shape of the grapefruit until you reach the bottom, cutting off the rind and pith but as little of the grapefruit flesh as possible.
Now hold your grapefruit over a bowl and use your knife to cut between each membrane of the grapefruit.
Let the grapefruit sections fall into the bowl.
When you are finished, squeeze the juice out of the remaining grapefruit into a different, small bowl. Repeat with a second grapefruit. Next, drain and rinse one can of hearts of palm. Pat dry and slice them into 1/3-inch-thick coins. Add to bowl with the grapefruit. Next, cut an avocado in half, working around the pit. Slice the half without the pit into cubes, then scoop out of the avocado skin and add to the bowl with the grapefruit and hearts of palm. Then remove the pit from the second side, cut into cubes, and add to bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir gently. Taste, and add more grapefruit juice from the small bowl if you’d like. I generally add another 1-2 tablespoons of juice, but it depends how juicy your grapefruit sections in the bowl were already. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve!
Ingredient Substitutions for Hearts of Palm Salad
You can also make this salad with oranges rather than grapefruit. It will take longer to supreme your oranges, because you will need 4 or 5 to get the same amount of citrus flesh. Also, as oranges are a little sweeter than grapefruits, you may want to add a little lime juice or lemon juice to your salad instead of just orange juice.
In terms of seasoning, if you don’t have Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning, feel free to replace with dried herbs of your choosing. Dried oregano, basil, or thyme (or a combination of those) would work with this salad. Adding some minced shallots with the herbs would be excellent as well. You can also replace the Sunny Paris Seasoning with celery salt—if you use that though, don’t add the additional 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.
What Are Hearts of Palm? Where Do Hearts of Palm Come From?
Hearts of palm, also known as chonta or swamp cabbage, come from inside the stems of some kinds of palm trees, most often grown in Florida, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Central America. Harvesting wild hearts of palm, which are mostly single-stemmed palm plants, is not sustainable on a large-scale, since harvesting kills the plant. However, most canned hearts of palm now come from the peach palm plant, which produces multiple stems per plant. Farmer can harvest the stems for their hearts without killing the plant. Yay! Fresh hearts of palm do exist, but they are rare, and don’t keep for very long. Typically, you’ll find hearts of palm canned or jarred in the grocery store, with the other canned vegetables. Some describe the taste of hearts of palm as similar to artichokes, with perhaps a bit more sweetness and savoriness.
Other Hearts of Palm Recipes
You can use hearts of palm in a variety of recipes. They are excellent in green salads and grain salads of all kinds and pair particularly well with avocado. You can also use hearts of palm as seafood and meat substitutes in vegetarian and vegan dishes. Hearts of palm can be used instead of seafood in ceviche and “lobster” roll preparations, for example. And their somewhat stringy texture makes them a good replacement for crab—for example in hearts of palm “crab” dip or “crab” cakes. You can even slice hearts of palm into coins, pat dry, and sauté them. Or, wrap them with a slice of prosciutto for an appetizer or snack. Or grill them! Finally, there is a pasta substitute made from hearts of palm called palmini—keto friendly! I haven’t tried it but it sounds intriguing.
Can You Eat Hearts of Palm Raw?
If you find fresh hearts of palm rather than canned, you need to peel them before eating. You can then eat them raw, though you can also cook them in boiling water for a minute or two to soften them up a little more. Canned hearts of palm can be eaten as is, with no need to peel or cook.
Hearts of Palm Nutrition Facts
In terms of nutrition, hearts of palm have some positives and one negative. On the positive side, hearts of palm are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and several other nutrients. They are also low in cholesterol, calories, and fat. On the negative side, canned hearts of palm are quite high in sodium, so best eaten in moderation.
How Do You Supreme Citrus Fruits?
The term “supreme” refers to removing the skin and pith of a citrus fruit, and cutting out just the sections of flesh. The easiest way to do this is to cut off the top and bottom (especially with a lemon), and then cut around the perimeter of the fruit, getting as close as you can to the flesh without cutting off too much of it. I prefer to use a large bread knife for this task, though some people prefer a sharp paring knife. The bigger the fruit, the easier it is to use a large knife. And, don’t make yourself crazy by trying to not cut any of the flesh—leaving a little bit in the skin is worth the time you save in not obsessing over the perfection of the task. And you can always buy extra citrus if you know you aren’t good at supreming—yet.
Looking for other delicious salads?
Don’t miss my other salad recipes:
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Miso Dressing
- Pear Gorgonzola Salad with Glazed Walnuts
- Kale Salad with Cranberries
- Fig Salad with Blue Cheese
- Tomato Salad or Salade des Tomates
- Green Bean Salad with Baked Goat Cheese
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- 2 pink grapefruits
- 1 15 oz (400g) can hearts of palm
- 1 large avocado
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1/2 t. Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning (or see Notes below)
- 1/4 t. kosher salt
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the very top and bottom of the grapefruit rind.
- Then, starting at the top, cut around the shape of the grapefruit until you reach the bottom, cutting off the rind and pith but as little of the grapefruit flesh as possible.
- Now hold your grapefruit over a bowl and use your knife to cut between each membrane of the grapefruit. Let the grapefruit sections fall into the bowl.
- When you are finished, squeeze the juice out of the remaining grapefruit into a different, small bowl and reserve for later.
- Repeat for the second grapefruit.
- Drain and rinse the hearts of palm. Pat dry and slice into 1/3-inch-thick coins. Add to bowl with the grapefruit.
- Cut avocado in half, working around the pit. Slice the half without the pit into cubes, then scoop out of the avocado skin and add to the bowl with the grapefruit and hearts of palm. Then remove the pit from the second side, cut into cubes, and add to bowl.
- Add olive oil, Sunny Paris seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir gently.
- Taste, and add more grapefruit juice from the small bowl if you’d like. I generally add another 1-2 tablespoons of juice, but it depends how juicy your grapefruit sections in the bowl were already.
- Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve!
If you don’t have Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning, feel free to replace with dried herbs of your choosing. Dried oregano, basil, or thyme (or a combination of those) would work with this salad. It’s also great with celery salt—if you use that though, don’t add the additional 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Adding some minced shallots is also a good substitution.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 263Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1408mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 11gSugar: 12gProtein: 7g