We are friends with an elderly French couple, both of whom are professional chefs. Maggy has often made a simple hearts of palm dish with her mustard vinaigrette. What are hearts of palm? They are the inner core of young palm trees, such as coconut trees. They have a mild, lightly sweet flavor, but can take on the qualities of whatever they are marinated in. I’ve only ever had them the way that Maggy prepares them, cut into rings and drenched in mustard vinaigrette. So when I was watching Mad Men the other day (catching up on the first four seasons to see what all the hype was about) and heard Don order a Hearts-of-Palm Salad, my ears perked up.
While I like the show well enough, the real fascination of Mad Men for me is its portrayal of the pre-Woodstock 1960s. How dressed up men and women were, what they drank, what they ate. In one episode, Joan is giving a dinner party for her husband’s boss and colleagues. She lays out an elaborate table and has to explain to her frazzled spouse proper protocol for seating (host/hostess at the head of the table). I didn’t learn how to set a proper table until I met my mother-in-law!
I keep seeing references to the Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, and it is taking all the will I can muster to not buy it for myself. One of the featured recipes is for the aforementioned Hearts-of-Palm Salad. I was considering Googling the recipe when I remembered one of the little treasures I inherited from my in-laws: Good Housekeeping’s Party Book, circa 1958.
Not only is it chock full of party wisdom, including proper table settings and seating arrangements, it also happened to have, on page 20, the recipe I was coveting! It’s not exactly the Sardi’s version from the show (you can find that here), but it’s a good “poor man’s” H-O-P Salad. Sorry Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook authors–you won’t be getting my money (this week, at least).
Here is the recipe. Normally, I improvise and put my own twist on recipes, but I wanted to stay true to the original. I did have to make one adjustment because I couldn’t find Italian-style French dressing.
- 3 large heads iceberg lettuce, in bite-size pieces
- 2 diced, peeled avocados
- 3 14-oz. cans hearts of palm, drained and cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1 cup bottled Italian-style French dressing (I used my own homemade white wine vinaigrette)
Toss together lettuce, avocados, hearts-of-palm, and dressing. Makes 15 servings.
I made this to accompany Easter dinner and it was a hit with everyone! If I were to put my own twist on it (besides using a vinaigrette in place of the rare dressing they suggest), I might add some olives or croutons, or even some fresh cherry or grape tomatoes. In the future, I think I’ll give the Sardi’s version a try. I love the savory scrumptiousness of capers!
I have never watched Mad Men but the salad sounds like it would be good. Thanks for the recipe. Maybe I should try it out
I just started watching Mad Men. It didn’t interest me before, and if it weren’t for the 60s nostalgia factor, I probably wouldn’t be as into it as I am now LOL.
My kind of cooking, simple, no fuss and no cleaning of pots.
I’ve never had hearts of palm, I’m going to have to see if they sell it here in the Supermarket.
Nice, interesting post.
Check in the section with pickles and canned artichoke hearts. A little pricey, but very versatile!
Ah, I keep forgetting that along with those really nice clothes comes some tricky dining etiquette from that Mad Men era. This salad does sound intruging though!
Everything was so proper back then! It’s nice that we’re less formal now, but I have to admit, I’m a little wistful for that sort of class. If I lived back then, I would want Joan Holloway’s wardrobe!!!