What to do with Escarole?
Escarole looks like green leaf lettuce, but as anyone that’s ever made that mistake can tell you, it’s flavor is a bit stronger. Escarole is actually a broad-leafed endive and a member of the chicory family. Less bitter than other chicories, it is delicious added to soups or stews, as well as making a flavorful addition to salad mix.
Endives are rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially in folate and vitamins A and K, and are high in fiber. One of two common types of endives, the other being frisee—otherwise known as curly endive—escarole can be eaten raw, but is delicious when grilled or broiled.
To grill, cut a head of escarole in half, lightly brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. In place of the grill it can also be broiled in the oven until lightly browned and slightly wilted. Grilled or broiled escarole has a delicious nutty flavor and is a wonderful accompaniment to rich meats, a topping for stews or soups, or wrap for scallops and shrimp.
For a simple and easy escarole recipe try this white bean soup, which can be finished in a crock-pot if using dry beans, or quickly finished on the stove top if using canned beans. Adding raw, chopped escarole to the soup at the end not only creates a unique and bright flavor, it adds nutrients and vitamins.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 carrot, diced
- 1 leek, whites only, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 oz piece of Parmegiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry white Cannellini beans, soaked, or one 15oz can
- 4 cups broth
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 head escarole, chopped in 1/2-inch strips
- In a large saucepan heat butter over medium heat. When hot add carrots, leeks, celery and garlic. Saute until soft and leeks are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Season with pepper. Add tomatoes, cheese, beans and broth.
- If using canned beans cook until hot, about 10 minutes, and season with salt. If using dried beans in a slow-cooker, transfer to crock-pot and cover. Cook until tender following manufacturers instructions and season with salt. On a stove top cook until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours and then season. Before serving mix in escarole and stir until just wilted. Serve hot with bread.