White pizza with caramelized onions and hearts of palm

First, some backstory about me and hearts of palm. Once upon a time, my best friend and I would go to her house after school and raid the kitchen. (Then we'd watch MTV for hours.) But we didn't just gorge on chips and junk. We liked to cook. One favorite was soupless ramen with butter. You boil the ramen noodles in water, then drain and add the flavor packet plus a big chunk of butter. Stir it all together, then inhale the salty buttery noodles while discussing INXS. We also liked to make omelettes. We sautéed tomatoes and shallots, then made careful 2-egg omelettes filled with the tomato-shallot mixture. So good. And sometimes, if luck was with us, we'd find a can of hearts of palm in the cabinet and crack it open. We loved the pale acidic crunch of baby palm trees. It seemed so decadent to be eating the marrow of a whole tree. It even kind of looks like marrow, doesn't it?

Anyway, I've only ever had hearts of palm as either a snack by itself (sliced into rounds or with the center pushed out so you have several tubes) or in a salad (where, once dressed, its taste and texture somewhat resemble a piece of cucumber). But when I was making a white pizza recently, my food blog gift of hearts of palm started calling me from the cupboard. "Do it! Use me!" cried the green pull-top can. So I did! And I'm proud of the result. The hearts of palm are very subtle, but they definitely add to the dish and I'd put them on pizza again or try them some other savory way. Here's what I did.

1 yellow onion
2 T butter
1 pizza's worth of raw pizza dough
3 hearts of palm (about half a can)
1 breast chicken
1/2 t marjoram
1 T fresh oregano (optional)
fresh black pepper
olive oil
1 ball smoked fresh mozzarella
chives to garnish (optional)

  1. Caramelize the onion. First, slice it in half and then into semi-circles. Sauté on medium high with 1 T butter. Once heated through, turn to low for about 45 minutes. Add small pieces of butter and stir every now and then. The onion will reduce by about half and become very sweet and soft.
  2. Make or buy your favorite pizza dough. Follow the directions to prepare. I strongly recommend docking (poking holes in) your dough and prebaking it for 10 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the chicken breast into strips and then pieces. Sauté it in olive oil with marjoram, black pepper and fresh oregano until it appears just cooked. Also, slice the hearts of palm into "coins" and slice the ball of mozzarella too. (I cut some of my mozzarella slices in half so they went further.)
  4. Assemble ingredients on prepared pizza dough--first spread the onion around, then dot on pieces of chicken breast and hearts of palm. Place mozzarella slices. Sprinkle parmesan over all. (I garnished with whole chives but diners complained they were "stringy." You may want to dice your chives...)
  5. Here it is with half the cheese on to show the hearts of palm.

    Ready for the oven.

  6. Cook at 425˚ until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble and brown--10-15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Concluding thoughts: I'm excited about the possibilities of white pizza. I loved the sweet foundation of the onion and the rich smoky flavor of the cheese. The hearts of palm were a mild counterpoint to these--a tiny bit vinegary, a tiny bit crunchy, nothing too overpowering or obvious. A recipe like this would be a great introduction to hearts of palm for someone who has never tried them. Also the chicken could easily be swapped out for mushrooms or olives or radicchio or some other delight. I'll be making this again!

I'm submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Chris from Mele Cotte. Thanks for hosting Chris, especially so soon after your amazing Cooking to Combat Cancer round-up!

1 comment:

Joanne said...

White pizza has always been my favorite, especially since as a kid I never really liked tomato sauce. The hearts of palm with the onions are definitely great toppings!