For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient of hearts of palm. Readily available canned, hearts of palm are the tender inner cores of palm trees — though only certain less fibrous varieties of palm are harvested. The taste is delicate and similar to artichokes, but their long cylindrical shape resembles white asparagus. They’re crunchy when raw and typically used in salads, but this Hearts of Palm Parm recipe does something different: It cooks the hearts in a tomato sauce, turning them soft and even more flavorful. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a fan of chicken or eggplant Parmesan looking for a different take on the dish, give this one a try.
Before beginning the recipe, you’ll want to drain any excess liquid from the hearts of palm on several layers of paper towels. Next, heat some oil in a large skillet and brown the hearts of palm on both sides. Transfer them to a plate and wipe out the skillet.
To make the sauce, add some more oil to the same skillet. Cook the onions until softened and lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then add the garlic, cooking 1 minute more. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes and fish sauce, if using. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened. Check the seasoning.
Pour the sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the browned hearts of palm in a single layer. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and bake until the cheese is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let sit at least for 5 minutes before serving. Top with basil and serve over polenta.
Get the Recipe: Hearts of Palm Parm
The Chopped Dinner Challenge is a series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchen that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients from an episode, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!t take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!