Well-informed nature lovers will probably be shocked that as self-declared tree-huggers we would share a recipe for Palmito Guisado (Stewed Heart of Palm).
The original recipe calls for the “heart” of the Palma Real, our majestic Dominican national tree. Harvesting it means killing the tree. But fear not, fellow tree-lovers, no Palmas Reales were harmed in the making of this dish, and better yet, we have a good reason for posting this recipe. Read on.
I’ll hazard a guess that most people who buy illegally-harvested heart of palm in the Dominican Republic have no idea of the harm that harvesting it does to the Palma Real tree.
And I would also guess that they may not know that there are alternatives that don’t harm the environment. In fact, the heart of some species of palm trees can be harvested over and over again as it regrows. Better yet, these are fast-growing species that are grown commercially.
By adding this recipe we’d like to tell you that you can enjoy this dish without harvesting Palma Real (Roystonea hispaniolana Bailey). Not only does it kill the tree, it also harms the habitat of our national bird, the cigua palmera or palmchat (Dulus dominicus), which is also endemic to the island.
So if you would like to enjoy this traditional dish, and you live in the Dominican Republic, please make sure you buy the heart of palm from renewable sources. Let’s protect our national tree.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large purple onion thinly sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper thinly sliced
- 4 plum tomatoes , cubed
- 1/2 tablespoon of crushed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of fruit vinegar
- 1 doz olives
- 2 lb [0.9 kg] of pre-cooked heart of palm cut into slices
- 2 cups of water
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
Heat a tablespoon of oil over low heat in a large skillet.
Cook and stir the onions until they turn translucent. Add the pepper, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and olives. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. Add the heart of palm, water. Simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced to half.
Season with pepper and salt to taste.
Buy brined or canned heart of palms at your local supermarket.