“Oh good. You’re making greens ‘n beans!” Joe, our practically “both-sides-off-the-boat”, Italian friend came to dinner last night and was thrilled with tonight’s simple, rustic menu. Escarole was a dish his grandparent’s regularly made him as a child. When was the last time you had escarole for dinner?
Escarole, first cousin to endive, should not be overlooked. It is a marvelous winter vegetable that releases it’s slight bitter edge when braised.
Escarole, like kale, was once considered lowly peasant fare. Times have changed and these days it’s enjoying renewed popularity, and for good reason: It is delicious.
Gracing menus of many a fine restaurant, you’ll find escarole, for example, served in a risotto accompanied by duck; the base of a savory gratin or in a myriad of savory soups.
If I had more time and had done some advance planning for this recipe, I would have used dried beans, instead of canned, and soaked them overnight. I, then, would have cooked them slowly with carrots, onion and bay leaf, finally finishing the beans in the braise. The starchiness would lend a wonderful taste and texture to the braising liquid. Next time.
But this time, I must say, the results are still delicious. I added sliced radicchio, just because I had it, and tossed some fresh spinach into the pot at the end for a splash of color.
The spinach, like the radicchio, is not an essential component in the recipe. I purchased this escarole from Hiller’s, and often spot it in groceries around town. Italian sausage links would feel right at home on top, or cooked within, this savory fare.