They look like crab cakes, but these vegetable patties hold their own


You look at the photo and think, “crab cakes,” right?

Nope. These are made from hearts of palm and artichoke hearts, spiked with a little Old Bay and nori flakes, with no jumbo-lump anything included.

So why wouldn’t I call them Vegan Crab Cakes? They’re clearly meant to look and even taste like the seafood classic. But I’d rather not set up unreasonable expectations. I took the name from the source, Robin Robertson’s book “Veganize It!,” and I like emphasizing what the cakes are - not what they’re not.

These Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Cakes have a lot going for them beyond their ability to mimic one of the most beloved dishes of the Mid-Atlantic region. They’re a little crisp from panko bread crumbs on the outside, and on the inside they’re moist from the (vegan) mayo but with just the slightest crunch here and there from the chopped hearts of palm.

The flavor hints at seafood because of the Old Bay and nori, but the texture gives these an identity all their own.

Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Cakes

Nori (dried seaweed) flakes are available on the international aisle of large grocery stores; you can also finely chop dried nori sheets or crumbles, if those are easier to find. The cakes need to be chilled for at least 20 minutes before cooking, which will help them hold together.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, minced (1/2 cup)

1 rib celery, minced (1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Hearts of palm from one 14-ounce jar, well drained, patted dry and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)

Marinated artichoke hearts from one 6-ounce jar, well drained, patted dry and coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon nori or dulse flakes

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

3/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs

Lemon wedges, for serving

Baby spinach leaves, arugula or another green of your choice, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and celery; cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat to cool.

Combine the hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, Old Bay seasoning, cornstarch, nori flakes and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Add the cooled onion mixture and 1/4 cup of the panko; mix well. Divide into 6 to 8 equal portions, then shape them into soft cakes, about 1 to 2 inches thick.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup panko in a shallow bowl. Coat the cakes with the bread crumbs, pressing gently as needed to make them stick; refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer.

Wipe out the skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; once it shimmers, and working in batches as needed, gently place the cakes in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side and warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve hot, with lemon wedges and greens. Makes 6 to 8 cakes.

— Adapted from “Veganize It!: Easy DIY Recipes for a Plant-Based Kitchen,” by Robin Robertson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)



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