Do you ever feel like branching out from your usual kitchen routine but don’t know where to start? Have you ever scoured through the produce section of your local store aimlessly, seeking inspiration and unfamiliar vegetables that can spice up your culinary journey? If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore new flavors, then look no further than escarole.
Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that is part of the chicory family. It has frilly, pale green leaves that almost look like lettuce and has a semi-bitter taste similar to endive. While its flavor can be off-putting for some, it’s a nutrient-packed vegetable that adds a unique twist to any dish.
Escarole is a versatile vegetable, as it can be used in salads or soups, or even cooked in a variety of ways. It can be braised, sautéed, or even grilled for an unexpected al-fresco twist. Escarole is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, A, and C, as well as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. As with any vegetable, its nutrient content can vary from region to region, so take a look at the package in order to get the most nutrition out of it.
When shopping for escarole, look for fresh heads (or bunches) that looks crisp and undamaged. The leaves should display a bright green color and feel quite fresh. It’s best to use escarole shortly after purchasing, as the leaves may start to brown if left too long. It can be stored in the fridge in an airtight bag for up to a week.
Now it’s time to get cooking. To prepare your escarole, simply rinse it with cold water and then pat it dry with paper towels. For its worth, the vegetable tastes great raw, or can be cooked down in butter, olive oil, garlic, onion, and a bit of white wine. Grilled escarole is a perfect summer side dish that can be thrown onto the BBQ. Simply season with salt and pepper, add a little citrus juice, and cook until lightly charred.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy escarole is to make a classic escarole and white bean soup. Start by cooking some garlic, onion, and carrots in olive oil. Once soft and fragrant, add in the canned white beans, canned tomatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then add the escarole, cover and simmer until the escarole is tender. Then season with salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
Finally, if you’re looking for something a bit heartier, try sautéing the escarole with pancetta and garlic for a delicious side dish. The high heat of the pan causes the escarole to wilt ever so slightly and the pancetta gives it a nice smokey flavor. Serve with a bit of Parmesan cheese and lemon juice for a real pop of flavor.
Escarole is a delicious, nutrient-packed vegetable that can add life to any dish. Whether eaten raw or cooked, it will definitely add a unique flavor to your meal. So why not give escarole a try? You never know--it just might become your next culinary favorite.