One of my very favorite parts of travelling is getting to experience the local food. I love it. I’m not afraid to try mystery meat at a street vendor or just point to whatever looks good in a little bakery, even if I have no idea what it is. I love trying new things that I would never get the chance to try otherwise. Even better than eating exotic food while on vacation is getting the chance to recreate it after I get home.
This Heart of Palm Salad is a recipe that I brought home with me from one of my trips to Costa Rica. It is one of my favorite salads ever, and I especially love it with beans and rice or grilled meat or fish. After doing a little bit of chopping, this salad is super easy to make and just involves some simple whisking and tossing.
Before I went to Costa Rica the first time, I had never even heard of heart of palm, never mind tried it. Heart of palm is the core of a bud of certain palm trees. Although it’s not commonly used in North America, it’s reasonably easy to find. Look for it with the canned vegetables, usually in a jar. I have found it even in my smaller, not all that well stocked neighborhood grocery store. And recently, Costco has been carrying them. They’re not cheap though.
Heart of palm has a mild briny flavor and softer (ie, not crunchy) texture. It pairs perfectly with the crunchy texture and stronger flavors of the bell pepper, celery and cilantro that make up the rest of this salad. A simple lemon and mustard based dressing tops it all off. I like to serve the salad on top of some mild flavored lettuce like leaf lettuce, Boston bibb or butter lettuce.
Costa Rican Heart of Palm Salad
- 25 oz jar Hearts of Palm halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2" pieces, or 2 smaller jars
- 1 pieces red orange or yellow bell bepper, cut into 1/2"
- 3 pieces medium stalks celery cut into 1/2"
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Lettuce eg. romaine or leaf lettuce
- Place hearts of palm, bell pepper, celery and cilantro into a large bowl.
- Whisk lemon juice, water, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Continue whisking while slowly drizzling in olive oil.
- Toss salad with dressing. Serve over a bed of lettuce.