Tuesday, August 28, 2012

RECIPE - Pasta with Chicken and Palm Hearts (Massa ao Molho de Frango e Palmito)

Although there is probably no other ingredient that is more Brazilian than palmito (palm hearts or hearts of palm), for palm trees grow almost everywhere in Brazil and Brazilians have been eating palm hearts since long before the days of European settlement on these shores, it is also an ingredient that is relatively easy to find in most corners of the world.

In Brazil, palmito is often eaten fresh in those areas that have commercial cultivation of palm trees, but in most of the country palmito is eaten conserved in water or brine and preserved in a can. It is the canned palm hearts that can easily be found on supermarket shelves in North America, Europe, or Asia. At one time, in the early stages of the globalization of cuisine, canned palm hearts were considered exotic and strange, and they were relegated to the "gourmet" shelf in markets and supermarkets. They were also very expensive. Today, they're easy to find, usually near the olives, capers and canned artichoke hearts, and though they couldn't be considered cheap, the price is no longer exorbitant.

This Brazilian recipe for a light pasta dish that highlights palmito is an excellent way to serve up a can of palm hearts. Although the flavor of palmito isn't super strong, it often becomes a favorite food of those who come to know it. This dish is a perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with palm hearts, and a welcome treat for those who are already familiar with it.
RECIPE - Pasta with Chicken and Palm Hearts (Massa ao Molho de Frango e Palmito)
Serves 6

500 gr package Italian pasta - your choice
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb (450 gr) boneless chicken breast, poached, cooled and shredded or cubed
3 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp chopped green olives
1 14-oz (300 gr) can hearts of palm, sliced into rounds
2 Tbsp chopped green onion, green part only, for garnish
salt to taste
Prepare the pasta according to package directions or to taste.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium frying pan. Add the garlic, chicken, tomatoes, olives and green onion, and cook over medium heat for three minutes, or until the garlic is transparent but not browned and the tomatoes begin to break up. Season with salt to taste, then reserve, keeping warm.

When the past is cooked, drain it thoroughly, then put it in a large decorative serving bowl. Add the chicken/palm heart mixture and toss gently to combine everything. Sprinkle the green onion on top and serve immediately.


  1. Hi James,
    It's a great recipe!
    Don't you know that you can store and share your recipe with more than 13,000 foodies around the world?
    We have an online cookbook and community, and surely we're always looking for more creative recipes to add to our database.

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