Looking for a new addition to your salads? I bring you hearts of palm, which can be found in the canned goods section of your local grocery store, despite the exotic-sounding name.

Photo by Parisa Soraya

What: Hearts of palm, also referred to as chonta, palm cabbage or swamp cabbage (it sounds unappetizing, but get past it) is a vegetable that comes from the inner core of palm trees. To harvest it, the palm tree is cut down and the bark containing layers of white fiber is removed, leaving the central core: the heart of palm.

Where: It’s found in temperate forests of America and the Mediterranean coast.

Taste: Hearts of palm look like white asparagus without the tips. They have a crispy (but not crunchy) texture, and are similar to artichokes … but hearts of palm are better. Trust me, if you like edamame, beets or avocado in your salads, you will love the addition of hearts of palm.

Nutritional Info: Hearts of palm are a great source of vitamin A, B9, fiber, iron, phosphorus and zinc. For every 100 g, hearts of palm has 44 kcal of energy, 2.8 g of protein and 163 mg of potassium.

Photo by Parisa Soraya

Preparation: Hearts of palms are pretty versatile vegetables. You can buy a can at the grocery store and consume them directly, or cut the stalks into bite size pieces and serve in soups and salads.

Recipe Ideas: Roll pieces of hearts of palm in slices of smoked salmon and serve with blue cheese and crème fraîche (basically heavy cream and buttermilk, a richer version of sour cream). Coat slices in breadcrumbs and roast in your oven. Stuff hollowed-out stalks with tuna or crab salad.