Escarole is an old world food of the chicory family, like Belgian Endive, frisée, and radicchio. The sought after bitterness of the chicories is paired well with balsamic vinegar, dried or seasonal fruits, and soft cheeses. Their sturdy texture makes them brilliant for grilling and braising. Cooking chicories intensifies the sweetness but before you grill it you might parboil in salted water for less than a minute. Keep in mind when you plan your weekly menu from the CSA that the sooner you eat it after harvest the less bitter.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy Escarole.
Wash and trim the escarole. Sauté in olive oil, covered, until wilted and bright green, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add a splash of vinegar or lemon, and serve.
Another preparation of the same dish is made in the oven with olive oil and lemon juice.
Escarole Caesar Salad
Use the lighter leaves from the escarole and tear into bite size pieces. Rinse and spin. Place them in a large serving bowl and make the dressing and the croutons.
For the homemade croutons:
1/2 loaf of crusty bread
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the bread into bite size cubes. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium head; add the garlic and sauté. Add the bread and toss to coat. Spread the bread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake stirring once until golden brown, 10 minutes. Cool before tossing in the salad.
For the dressing:
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the egg yolk, garlic, anchovy, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and lemon juice in a blender. Add the oil slowly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss well, add the croutons, and garnish with shaved parmesan.