Now this was very interesting! I had my doubts on pulling this off, so a little imagination goes a long way. Over the past few years, I have recreated “tuna fish” using sunflower seeds and a combination of seasonings and dressing to give it that similar texture and taste. Using Old Bay Seasoning is key, providing that familiar taste used on so many seafood dishes. Texture and appearance came into play using hearts of palm for their delicate flavor, cream color and soft bite. Lastly, nutrition wise, they add up to quite the powerhouse vegetable!
I was actually unaware of how many nutritional benefits hearts of palm offers until I did a quick google search (thank you, Dr. Axe)
Promotes Digestive Health
Aids in Weight Loss
Supports Bone Health
Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Helps Prevent Anemia
Along with that, 1 cup of hearts of palm contains approximately 41 calories, 1 gram of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 3.7 grams of protein. Combining that with 1 cup of brown rice pasta having approximately 8 grams of protein, that’s a pretty nice addition of protein to your day. So you can see, I really don’t concern myself with protein intake, nor carbs. When I eat naturally, all these nutrients fall into place.
Hearts of Palm are high in sodium, so make sure to rinse them well. To achieve the “rings”, slice each into just over a 1/4 inch and gently push through the middle to release a ring. Sometimes, I got two rings our of a cut, most often it was one ring. I saved the insides of the cut palm to use in a salad. A plus to not using the real calamari is that there is no fear in overcooking the hearts of palm, as calamari can go from soft to tough in a matter of minutes from overcooking. Along with the brown rice pasta, I spiralized one zucchini to add an extra vegetable in the dish, but not overpower the taste. We loved the taste and texture. There was not a distinguished taste of the hearts of palm, just a perfect blend of flavors along with a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes.
Linguine with Spicy Vegan “Calamari”
2 14 oz cans or jars of hearts of palm, drain and rinsed, cut into 1/4 inch slices and separated gently into rings
1 teaspoon fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried, finely chopped or crumbled
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to your taste)
3/4 cup, 6 oz, tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or, if you can find vegan clam juice use 1 cup juice, 1/2 cup vegetable broth)
1/2 lb. linguine (purchase Artisan pasta made in Italy, pay a bit more, think quality over quantity, it makes a huge difference, or brown rice pasta- gluten free)
1 zucchini, spiralized (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh Italian, flat leaf parsley
In a medium sized bowl, place the hearts of palm rings and seasonings together. Toss gently to incorporate well. Set aside.
In a fry pan large enough to accommodate the pasta later, warm the olive oil or spray the pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the
shallots and garlic are softened but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 2 minutes. Add in the hearts of palm, and toss to saute a few minutes. There is no actual “cooking” of the hearts of palm, mostly to marry all the flavors together. Add in the vegetable broth (and vegan clam juice if you have) and continue to simmer until thickened and aromatic, about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 5 water to a rapid boil. Check the package directions for the cooking time, then add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is 1 minute shy of being al dente.
Drain the pasta, add to the sauce in the pan and place the pan over low heat. If adding in the zucchini, toss it in as well. (I do not cook the zucchini, just allow it to heat in the sauce). Add the parsley and toss the pasta and sauce together for about 1 minute. Some of the sauce will be absorbed by the pasta, but plenty will remain, keeping the pasta moist. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl or individual shallow bowls and serve right immediately. Serves 4.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.