Hearts of Palm Are the Pasta Substitute You're Missing

Zoodles, schmoodles. This healthy hack is more satisfying — and super cheap.

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I love falling face-first into a giant plate of pasta. But unless I’m running a few miles every day, I can’t justify eating that many carbs on the regs, and I save it for special occasions like date night or dinner at my favorite Italian spot.

Part of what I love about pasta is the sauce, whether it’s plain marinara or Bolognese or a creamy cheesy situation. And that’s why drenching something like zucchini noodles in pasta sauces make sense. You’re cutting out carbs while enjoying all that saucy goodness. But honestly? I’m a little bit sick of zoodles. I’ve eating my fair share, it’s sort of annoying to spiralize and they’re decently expensive to buy pre-spiralized. Don’t get me wrong, I eat 'em and appreciate them. I’m not here to yuck anyone’s yum.

I’m here to point out another super smart pasta substitute: hearts of palm. You may or may not have seen hearts of palm pasta brands cropping up on grocery store shelves recently, but the truth is that chefs have used canned hearts of palm as a pasta substitute for years — and they’re way easier to find at the grocery store! This Hearts of Palm Parm recipe from Food Network Kitchen, for example, was adapted from an episode of Chopped. Unlike zoodles, hearts of palm have a mildly tangy flavor (similar to brined artichoke hearts) that’s savory and really enhances many sauces you add to it.

Each heart of palm resembles a satisfying, plump and al dente piece of pene pasta (minus the hole, of course). A single 14 ounce can contains just 7 carbohydrates and would probably feed a couple people. All you pretty much have to do is dump it into a skillet with your favorite sauce, warm it up and serve. One of the best parts? It’s just as cheap as pasta (just about $2). Below — step-by-step instructions.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

1: Drain and rinse the hearts of palm under water

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

2: Slice the hearts of palm in half to make them the same length as pene. If any of them are much thicker than the rest, halve them lengthwise so they’re roughly the same thickness.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

3: Add the hearts of palm to your favorite skillet with your sauce of choice (mine is marinara), then cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

4: Serve topped with freshly ground black pepper. Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs!

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