brazilflagHeart of palm, that is…

Time for another traditional Brazilian recipe!   Heart of palm (“palmito” in Portuguese), is, as the name suggests, the core of a  palm tree sapling: it’s very delicious, but their harvest came at a huge price: to obtain the “palmito“, the whole tree was  killed. Brazil was the greatest producer until the 90’s, but the population of palm trees decreased to near extinction. Other varieties of trees that are perennials are now cultivated to  take the place of palmito; the most promising is called “pupunha“.  To listen to the correct pronunciation of those words, click the sound wave below. “Pupunha” might be a challenge for Americans, but practice makes perfect!  Go ahead and give it a try…

Heart of palm is often associated with salads (as the classic  “millionaire’s salad”), but I want to  expand your palmito-horizons to cooked dishes, like this wonderful pie. It is great warm or cold, by the way. Make sure to read my comments after the jump for some more thoughts on “palmito“.


HEART OF PALM PIE (Torta de Palmito)
(slightly modified from this recipe, taken from one of my favorite websites, “Chucrute com Salsicha”)

Clique no link acima para a receita em portugues….

2.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cold, cut in pieces
3/4 cup yogurt
1 t salt
1 egg yolk

2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced small
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can hearts of palm, diced
1/2 cup olives, diced (I used a mixture of kalamata and green olives)
1/2 cup green peas (frozen is fine)
green onion and Italian parsley, to taste (minced)
4 – 5 oz cream cheese
1 T flour
salt and pepper to taste

Make the filling first, because it needs to be used cold. Saute’ the onion in olive oil until translucent, add the tomatoes, allow them to release some liquid, then add the diced heart of palm, olives, salt and pepper. Cook a couple of minutes, add the cream cheese, parsley, green onions, and flour, cook for a couple more minutes until the cheese melts and the texture turns creamy. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature. You can prepare the filling the day before and keep it refrigerated.

For the dough: add almost all the flour (2 + 1/4 cups) and the salt to a large bowl, work the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry fork, then add the yogurt (cold). You may or may not need to use the rest of the flour. Do not overwork the dough. Allow it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes (you can also prepare the dough the day before).

Open half of the dough in a circle and cover the bottom and sides of your pie dish, making sure the dough is not rolled too thin.  Add all the filling, open the second half of the dough, and either cover the pie completely, or cut strips, forming a simple grid over or a more elaborate lattice pattern. Brush the dough with egg yolk mixed with a little water to thin it. Cook in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes (please see my comments for variations on this).

Allow the pie to sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Bom apetite!

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