Hearts on Hearts Salad, and a chat about making creamy dressings


So I’m aware this is kind of a non-recipe recipe. You guys aren’t morons, you know how to assemble a salad. So rather than give you a play by play on how I sliced the cherry tomatoes in half, I’m going to talk about the one interesting part of this dish–the cool, tangy, vegetal, creamy yet super healthy and guilt-free dressing I made for this salad by blending up a couple of jars of hearts of palm with Greek yogurt.

Wait, what?!

Greek yogurt is great, but would be bland AF as a salad dressing without a little help from its friends. This works out perfectly with hearts of palm, a delicious but strange (and expensive!) little veggie that I never can seem to get enough of. By turning it into a creamy dressing, you get a hit of heart of palm flavor in ever single bite of your salad.

Here’s my general formula for making a greek yogurt sauce:

Greek Yogurt + Veggies + Pop of Flavor + Oil + Acid

Here are some examples:

Greek Yogurt + Jalapenos + Cilantro + Olive Oil + Lime Juice

Greek Yogurt + Roasted Red Peppers + Garlic + Avocado Oil + Red Wine Vinegar

Greek Yogurt + Roasted Shallots + Roasted Garlic + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice

Greek Yogurt + Sun Dried Tomatoes + Shallots + Walnut Oil + Balsamic Vinegar

Greek Yogurt + Mandarin Oranges and/or Pineapple + Honey + Coconut Butter + Yuzu (imagine that on fruit salad or cinnamon pita chips!)

Greek Yogurt + that yummy leftover green sofrito we made the other day + Olive Oil + Lime Juice

On all these bad boys, its important to TASTE after you blend. At that point, you’ll know how much salt and pepper it needs, and how much water or liquid you should splash in to thin it out and make it the right texture. (Or, hell you could leave it thick and use it as a chip or veggie dip instead).

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cans of hearts of palm
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (regular, 2%, or fat free are all fine)
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes (if you don’t have a microplane, seriously wtf you’re a grown ass adult. Just kidding. Just the juice is totally cool).
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Romaine lettuce, whole (hearts and leafy greens)
  • Bacon
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced pepperocini or banana peppers

Method

  1. We’re going to start by crisping up the bacon, since that step will take the longest. Take the entire mass of bacon out of the vacuum pack and slice into 1/2 inch strips, crosswise. Throw it in a skillet on MEDIUM LOW heat, and SLOWLY render out the fat until its all brown and crunchy AF, stirring every few minutes and using a wooden spoon to break up the stacked bacon pieces. This is going to take awhile, 20-25 minutes to do it right. You’re going to look at it 10-12 minutes in and panic because it will look more like Canadian bacon (gross) than delicious deep rosey brown crunchy stuff we all know and love. But trust ya girl Chelsea, this is the guaranteed way to get it completely rendered, crispy, and perfect.
  2. While the bacon is frying, making the dressing. Open up the cans of the hearts of palm (reserving the liquid) and roughly chop each piece into 2 or 3 pieces. Go ahead and snag a few bites, hearts of palm make delicious snacks–basically log-shaped artichokes! Toss them all in the blender, then add the Greek yogurt, the lime zest, the lime juice, 4-5 good glugs of olive oil, a pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper, and a small splash of the reserved heart of palm liquid from the cans (for extra hearty palmy flavor). Give it a good blend, and after about a minute, stop the blender to scrape down the sides and taste. From there, use your senses to see whether it needs more salt, pepper, or liquid to thin it out. Blend until smooth, pour in a couple mason jars, and chill in the fridge until you’re ready. This dressing will keep for a week or so, and tastes awesome on anything…more on that later.
  3. Chop up a head of romaine. I’m the waste not want not type, so I used everything from the leafy greens to the very end of the heart. Plus it gives your salad lots of color and textural contrast. Measure out however much lettuce you’ll need in a bowl, and throw the rest in a plastic bag to use later.
  4. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. You can figure this one out yourself.
  5. The bacon should be about done! Turn off the stove and use a slotted spoon to scoop the bacon out of the sizzling oil, onto a stack of paper towels to drain. Let the bacon fat cool for about 20 minutes, then pour it into a mason jar and throw in the fridge or freezer to use at a later time. You definitely don’t want to waste that flavor goldmine. If you have extra bacon bits, they keep well in the fridge too. They won’t be as snappy, but will still taste awesome.
  6. Sprinkle the bacon, tomatoes, and peppers on top of the lettuce and drizzle it with the heart of palm dressing. The tangy and spicy peppers play off the fresh and mild romaine, the salty bacon compliments the sweet tomatoes, and the heart of palm dressing brightens the whole thing.

Remix this dish: make this a complete meal by adding grilled or rotisserie chicken! The heart of palm dressing is super versatile—use it in place of sour cream on tacos, use as a dressing in potato or pasta salad, drizzle over gazpacho or any warm veggie puree soup as a garnish, use as a sauce on grilled meats and fish. The bacon fat is great for making vinaigrettes, for sauteing veggies, or while searing meats for braises.


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