Shrimp Remoulade with Hearts of Palm and Avocado

Aug 8, 2009 by

Stock palm treeHearts of palm, an ingredient more common in France than in the U.S., are the soft inner core of the young shoots of various kinds of palm tree, including the coconut palm.  They are interesting little nibbles. It’s something to talk about at the table with kids and a great way to introduce an intriguing and unusual new veggie.  I made this salad with twice the amount of hearts of palm the original recipe called for, and my daughter, who wasn’t familiar with them before, asked if there were any more of them after we finished the last of the leftovers. This fresh little salad was a big hit with us.

Another great thing about it is that kids can build their own salads,  choosing freely from among the ingredients. Dishes that give kids something active to do with their hands with the food gives them good freedom. Getting to choose their own proportions and create their own dish makes eating more appealing for them. We call such dishes “recreation foods.” They promote better eating and good conversation.

This no-cook dish could hardly be simpler or quicker to make.  I also like recipes like this one that don’t demand precision. They can be thrown together with more or less of everything and it all works out. Sloppy, hasty measurements are permitted, and adjustments according to abundance or scarcity. This recipe can be eaten with more lettuce if you get short on the fixings, or less if you want to have a heavier meal, for example. It’s good with lots of avocados, and I could probably add more hearts of palm or shrimp without hearing any complaints.

This recipe should make enough for two meals for four adults/teens. I made half this amount and three of us ate it for two meals but we wouldn’t have minded having more of the goodies.  We ate nothing but this salad for dinner one night and then finished it for lunch the next day.

Now that we are empty nesters, I just freeze half of the dressing (this recipe makes a LOT of dressing) and get it out for an even quicker meal another time.

I even got it out of the freezer for a guest one time. It’s that good: worthy of company.  But it was embarrassing because our guest liked it and wanted to know what was in it, and since I hadn’t in fact just made it, I couldn’t really remember. I didn’t want to tell her I had just pulled it out of the freezer. So she probably thought I was a real space cadet to have forgotten already what was in the salad dressing, or that, like Mrs. Doubtfire, I had had the meal delivered and pretended I had made it. It’s that good.

For this amount for two meals, I would spend $3.80 on the hearts of palm (in a jar) alone. The two pounds of shrimp would be another $12-15. Avocados were running $1 each (usually around 69¢) this week. A couple more dollars for the Romaine (I bought a pack of three heads for $3 and the three of us got three meals from them). Dijon mustard is expensive, but I get enormous plastic squeeze bottles of it for 99¢ at the 99¢ Only Store. If you don’t already have tarragon vinegar, I’d try it with white wine vinegar.

1 C olive oil
¾ C chopped onion
½ to ¾ C Dijon mustard (yes, that much)
1/3 C tarragon vinegar or plain white wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves
2 ½ t paprika
¾ t or less salt
1 t cayenne pepper
1 C coarsely chopped green onions
Romaine lettuce, two or three heads
2 lbs cooked, peeled, deveined large or small shrimp
28 oz of diced hearts of palm from a jar, can (drained and rinsed) or frozen
4-6 avocados, diced (cut up only half for the first meal)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Add green onions and blend mixture a little more and put it in a bowl.  Combine shrimp with hearts of palm in a bowl. Serve lettuce, sauce, shrimp and hearts of palm, and avocados in separate bowls and let everyone compile their own salads, without hovering or bugging your picky eater about what he chooses.

Adapted from Bon Appétit’s Deliciously Light cookbook.
©  Anna Migeon / 1 August 2009 / All rights reserved