Roasted Hearts of Palm with Romesco Sauce

Toasted almonds elevate the nuttiness of this delicate vegetable.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 hour 30 minutes

Megan Zhang

By Megan Zhang

Published on October 7, 2022

“Heart of palm is one of the most beautiful ingredients,” says chef Dominique Oudin. I’d never tried the fresh form of the delicate white vegetable—harvested from the inner core of certain palm tree varieties—until a recent visit to Colombia, where the ingredient appears in many dishes. Oudin’s preparation, which he serves at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara’s Restaurante 1621 (where the kitchen marries French techniques with local Colombian ingredients), stuck with me in particular. The thinly sliced heart of palm was coated in a cashew-almond cream, served with a dollop of peppery romesco sauce on the side. The tender vegetable’s clean, grassy flavor made it an ideal canvas for the nutty cream and the zippy, smoky romesco. 

When Oudin cooks with the tropical plant, “I don’t want to change the flavor too much,” he explains. “It’s something very special because we can’t find it everywhere in the world." Much of the world’s heart of palm is cultivated in Central and South America and Southeast Asia, where the ingredient is part of many cultures’ culinary traditions. 

Before this trip through Colombia, I’d only ever tasted the canned or jarred versions of heart of palm. The fresh variety has a more toothsome texture than the processed stuff, and a more pronounced flavor. Once I returned home, I knew I wanted to try cooking it myself—starting with a riff on Oudin’s dish. I learned that, because unsustainable harvesting practices can be detrimental to palm trees, it’s important when buying fresh or frozen hearts to shop from a producer that sticks to regenerative techniques (Puna Gardens is a reputable online source that sells the hearts cleaned and ready to use). 

When my order arrived in the mail, I sliced the fresh vegetable into sticks, followed Oudin’s en papillote roasting technique, and replaced his cashew-almond cream with a simple sprinkle of toasted nuts. And of course, I had to whip up a classic romesco sauce recipe from SAVEUR’s archives.


For the romesco sauce:

  • 2 large red bell peppers (1 lb.)
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the hearts of palm:

  • 1 lb. fresh hearts of palm, cut into ½-in.-by-4-in. batons
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. almonds, toasted and coarsely crushed


Step 1

Make the romesco sauce: Preheat the broiler, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the bell peppers and garlic on the lined baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until the vegetables are blistered all over, 4–8 minutes for the garlic, and 10–15 minutes for the peppers. Transfer the broiled ingredients to a heatproof bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

Step 2

Gently rub the peppers to remove their skins, then remove and discard the stems and seeds; peel the garlic cloves. To a blender, add the roasted vegetables, almonds, olive oil, tomato paste, vinegar, chile flakes, paprika, and ½ cup water. Purée until smooth, then scrape the sauce into a bowl, season with salt and black pepper to taste, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. (If making the sauce ahead of time, romesco keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.)

Step 3

Roast the hearts of palm: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Step 4

In a large bowl, toss the hearts with the olive oil and thyme. Season lightly with salt and black pepper; toss to combine. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the hearts neatly in the center of the sheet. Fold the corners of the foil inward to wrap and seal the hearts in a tight pouch. Transfer to the oven and roast until the hearts are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Step 5

Cool the hearts of palm slightly before unwrapping, then transfer them to a platter, sprinkle with crushed almonds, and serve warm with the reserved romesco sauce on the side.

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