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Let’s dig into the low-carb, gluten-free pasta made from hearts of palm: Palmini. And we’ll answer the question you really want to know: Is it any good?
It may come as no surprise but as folks who write about food, we’re constantly trying the stuff. Newfangled snacks and beverages come whizzing across our desks made from or laced with trendy ingredients like bee pollen, cauliflower, and CBD. For as many hits as there are—products that induce a collective “wow” or “yup…yup” from the group—there are ten more that fall flat or register as unimportant. Unimportant because they don’t really work or unimportant because we’ve simply seen them before.
Palmini, a pasta substitute made entirely from hearts of palm that hit the market somewhat recently after a debut on Shark Tank, fell into the former category. Although alternative, gluten-free and low-carb pasta brands have proliferated on shelves in recent years, we hadn’t tried one made from the starchy inner core of a palm tree before. To our surprise, Palmini works and serves as a welcome addition to the alternative pasta-sphere.
Until Palmini came along, the “it” ingredient in the world of low-carb, vegetable-based pasta was spiralized zucchini (aka, zucchini noodles or “zoodles”) with other options like spiralized carrots, squash, beets, and asparagus in the mix but trailing behind in popularity.
Nothing—and I mean nothing—comes close to fresh made pasta (if you disagree, well, you’ve put our friendship in grave jeopardy) but Palmini hearts of palm “pasta” presents a good alternative for those looking to live that low-carb, low-calorie life and especially for folks with an aversion, intolerance, or allergy to wheat and gluten.
One thing to note (and to like) about Palmini is its structural integrity. Because Palmini is warmed and not cooked, the way zoodles and other veggie “pastas” are, it holds its form and maintains a slight crunch similar to al dente pasta. Palmini isn’t as absorbent as most vegetables either and thus doesn’t turn to mush (for me, zoodles’ most apparent flaw).
Hearts of palm have a mild flavor, similar to artichoke with a slight vegetal tang but one that doesn’t overpower sauces. Because of this, Palmini works with the accompanying flavors of most noodle-centric cuisines and dishes like Italian pasta and most Asian stir-fries, or noodle soups.
One serving of Palmini has only 3 net grams of carbs and a measly 15 calories, with 2 grams of protein (which is comparable to zoodles, and other vegetable pasta substitutes).
A single serving of traditional pasta, on the other hand, has 200 calories and a whopping 42 grams of carbs with 7 grams of protein. Most gluten-free pasta simply subs rice flour or other gluten-free flour in for wheat but maintains similar calorie and carb counts to regular pasta.
Among the recommended ways to prepare Palmini, which is cut to a thickness resembling linguini and comes packed in water, is to simply rinse it and toss with a warm sauce like Ragu alla Bolognese or Cacio e Pepe. Soaking Palmini in milk for 20 minutes is also recommended and meant to soften its already mild flavor, but I didn’t notice a major difference.
Palmini comes canned or bagged and retails for roughly $7 per 12-ounce can/bag, which contains four servings (really two servings), but we’ve seen it sold for as little as $4 per can. This still works out to a bit more than your average serving of boxed wheat pasta, but not by much. You can purchase Palmini in select grocery stores or buy it online through a number of retailers.