Hearts of Palm Crabcakes
Yield: approximately 12-14 crabcakes
2-14 oz. cans hearts of palm, drained
1½ tsp. oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped bell pepper or celery
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch each salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or other herb (thyme, oregano, etc.)
1 tsp. dried dill
1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1½ tsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. Spanish paprika
couple pinches black pepper
⅓ cup vegan mayo
½ cup breadcrumbs
1-2 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. vegan mayo
½ tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. capers, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper
Combine ingredients and serve with the crabcakes.
Chop each piece of palm into thirds lengthwise, then chop briefly in a food processor or by hand until it appears “shredded” (but not mushy).
In a small pan, heat 1½ tsp. oil over medium heat; add the onion, bell pepper or celery, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until softened and lightly golden. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mix together the chopped hearts of palm, sautéed veggies, and the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Pour some breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl or plate. With a large serving spoon, small measuring cup, or a cookie scoop, form patties a little less than ¼ cup each. Coat with breadcrumbs; be sure the cakes have a good layer on both sides. Set them aside until all are formed.
Heat ½ Tbsp. oil over medium heat in a non-stick or cast iron pan. Sauté crabcakes for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown, being careful not to burn. Wipe out the pan between batches, adding a little more oil for each new batch.
Serve with fresh greens and a vegan mayo-based sauce of your choice or this recipe for crabcake dip.
MORE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Yes, there are vegan options to your favorite seafood dishes, as this crabcakes and lox combo shows
When I opened Trumpet Blossom Café in April 2012, plant-based cuisine was still seen by many as a curious oddity. Ten years later, this once-mysterious way of eating has made its way into the mainstream.
There are vegan options almost everywhere food is served or offered, and more people are trying — and enjoying — vegan alternatives to dishes that traditionally contain animal products. There are almost as many reasons for choosing a plant-based meal as there are veganized versions of people’s favorite foods.
Some may choose to skip the meat for ethical reasons while others opt out due to health concerns. Still more will reach for veggies as a way to help heal the environment. Any way it’s viewed, food, and the choices we make surrounding it, is an inherently personal topic.
It's important to point out that the aim of adopting a plant-based diet or becoming vegan isn’t to achieve an unaltering, rigid sense of perfection. I believe the goal is simply to eliminate as much unnecessary suffering as possible.
This can mean embarking on a learn-as-you-go process that involves paying attention to your actions but forgiving yourself for making mistakes. For example, I try to take the time to read the list of ingredients on packaged items I purchase. But occasionally I forget, and when I get home and look, perhaps something will be there that I would prefer not to ingest.
Often, it’s a product like honey or whey, both of which can be ubiquitous and difficult to avoid. I’m always disappointed when I make a mistake like this, but the reality is that it’s better to just pass the item on to someone who will enjoy it, since I’ve already bought it and there’s no use in it going to waste. We must remember always to be gentle with ourselves and focus on the positive outcomes our efforts can produce.
I’ve refrained from eating meat for a little over 20 years and have been eating a plant-based diet for about the past five. At first, I stopped eating meat but continued to eat fish, eggs and dairy products. I felt this was a fair middle ground to occupy, and I took comfort in the idea that no beautiful “farm animals” were dying because of what I was deciding to eat.
But the more I learned about the realities of how those vegetarian and pescetarian products got to my plate, the more invested I was in eliminating them from my diet. It seemed to me that there was too much torture taking place, for both the animals and the humans involved, no matter how humanely it was claimed to be done. Eventually, I stopped consuming all animal products.
Once I became more aware of my food choices, I became more aware of other ways one can be a consumer of animal products. As you may hear some folks explain, there is a difference between eating a plant-based diet and being a vegan.
Some people argue that being a vegan means not exploiting animals for any use, including, but of course not limited to, clothing, footwear and cosmetic products. A quick Google search will shed light on the many items that we may be surprised to learn contain animal products.
Most of us have probably heard how raising animals for human consumption can be devastating to the environment and how our constant demand for affordable, subsidized meat is not sustainable. There are articles and infographics everywhere about the amount of land and water it takes to make a pound of beef versus a pound of beans, or how animal agriculture is responsible for an alarming percentage of harmful emissions.
There seems to be less information in our collective consciousness about the toll that farming the oceans is taking. We are destroying the sea at a much faster rate than the land. This is not only a tragedy for the life within the seas but also for all life on land, including ours. The brutal truth is we can’t survive without the oceans. To protect them, and the future of our home, we must decelerate our desire to consume creatures that live in that precious water.
All of this can sound very daunting, discouraging, and maybe even impossible, but we should keep in mind that a bunch of tiny, individual changes can add up to one giant change. One of the most impactful changes that we as individuals can make is to alter the way we eat and the way we think about food.
I’ve also noticed that recently companies are beginning to manufacture plant-based alternatives to fish and seafood for folks to make at home and for restaurants to use. One of my first instincts as a chef is to explore if and how I can make something myself, from scratch.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, I spent some time in my home kitchen experimenting with a couple of recipes that have since made it onto the menu at Trumpet Blossom, and I’m sharing them with you here. Carrot lox are a plant-based alternative to salmon lox and mimic the flavors found in the traditional version — rich, smoky notes accented with a touch of sweetness and herbal depth.
Our Hearts of Palm crabcakes taste shockingly like the “real thing” because hearts of palm have a mild flavor base that takes on the attributes of the ingredients added to it, similar to that of its crustaceous counterpart. Look for local carrots if you’re able and you’ll find canned hearts of palm at grocery stores around town (Natural Grocers carries them), shelved near the artichoke hearts and olives.
Even if you don’t adopt a plant-based diet or become vegan overnight, you can still have an enormously positive impact on the future of our surroundings by making small, manageable changes incrementally. These changes, as trite as this will sound, can often have delicious results.
So back to the restaurant: Our food menu at Trumpet Blossom is entirely plant-based, and we make as many things from scratch as we can. I’m not a huge fan of meat alternatives that try to trick me into believing they’re made from animals.
One of the initial reasons I gave up meat was because I found the texture very unappealing. But like I said before, I continued to occasionally eat a bit of fish and seafood and phased that out eventually. I feel like there are a lot of people who may be in this gray area between not eating meat but not going entirely plant-based.