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Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad

Recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking by Pati Jinich

Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad

Photo credit: Penny De Los Santos

Pati Jinich, on Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad:

Pairing buttery avocados with tender hearts of palm is a tradition in my family for special occasions. Cherry tomatoes and corn make the salad even more alluring, and pumpkin seeds add a nutty crunch. Serve as a main dish with a side of toast or pita bread, or serve as a side dish to chicken, meat, or fish. No one who has tried it at my home or in my class has ever left without the recipe.

Cooks&Books&Recipes Editors:

When we first looked for a recipe to test from this cookbook, we weren’t thinking “simple.” We were just struck by the gorgeous photo of the Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad. Of course, the photo was taken by Penny De Los Santos, and the recipe was prepared by the cookbook author, Pati Jinich, but it looked like a great way to start our Cinco de Mayo celebration, so we thought it would be worth the effort.

What a surprise! This was the simplest salad ever. OK, we cheated a bit by using already-toasted pumpkin seeds, but still. And it’s so unusual — perfect for a “special occasion” dish that you don’t want to spend extra-special time on. One note: we cut the salad recipe in half, but we forgot to cut the vinaigrette recipe in half. It was only when we were commenting on the subtle yet surprisingly tasty dressing, which perfectly coated each kernel of corn and chunk of avocado and heart of palm, that we realized we’d doubled up. We’ll do the same (on purpose) next time.

Our extra-vinaigrette version is gorgeous too (even in these non-professional photos):

Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad (bowl)

Photo: Cooks&Books&Recipes

Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad (plate)

Photo: Cooks&Books&Recipes

P.S. Thanks to publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we’re giving one copy of Pati’s Mexican Table to a Cooks&Books&Recipes reader. Be sure to enter the giveaway here!

Pati's Mexican Table cookbook

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Avocado and Hearts of Palm Salad

Featured Recipe From: Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking

Vinaigrette can be made up to 5 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated (mix well before using); salad can be assembled up to 12 hours ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8; serves 4 as a main

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons hulled raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican, or 1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano

¼ teaspoon dark brown sugar

¾ teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, rinsed, drained, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (about 6 ounces)

1 tablespoon chopped red onion, or to taste

3 large Hass avocados, halved, pitted, meat scooped out, and cut into bite-sized chunks

Directions:

1. Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring often, until you hear popping sounds, like popcorn, and they begin to brown lightly, 3 to 4 minutes; take care not to burn them. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, to heat through. Drain and set aside.

3. Combine the vinegar, lime juice, oregano, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add the oils in a thin, steady stream, mixing with a whisk or a fork until emulsified.

4. In a large salad bowl, combine the hearts of palm, corn, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Gently fold in the avocados, taking care not to mash them.

5. Sprinkle the salad with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.

MEXICAN COOK’S TRICK: Hearts of palm—palmitos, or “little palm trees,” in Spanish—are readily available canned or jarred. Be sure to rinse them before using to rid them of any canned flavor or graininess from the preserving liquid.

Excerpted from PATI’S MEXICAN TABLE, © 2013 by Pati Jinich. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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