what to do with escarole

As a member of the chicory family, escarole is definitely bitter, but it can also have a subtle sweetness, especially this time of year. It’s tender and crisp enough to eat raw, but sturdy and bold enough to grill, sear, braise or toss in a soup. 

If keeping it raw, don’t be shy with your flavors. You could make an escarole caesar. You could make a version of a salad lyonnaise, and toss it with croutons, bacon lardons, a soft boiled egg and a mustard-bacon fat vinaigrette. If you are making a roast chicken, consider making a warm vinaigrette using some of the pan drippings or just wilt it in the pan once the chicken is done cooking. 

You can char your escarole on a grill or in a pan, then mound it on garlic rubbed toast and top it with something rich like a fried, runny egg or burrata cheese and a sliver of anchovy or a crispy slice of nueske bacon. When I grill escarole, I often cut it in half or quarters, marinate it in olive oil with pounded garlic paste added, season it with salt, char it quickly on a hot grill (or pan) and then crowd it in a cooler part of the grill (or in a bowl) to continue to soften and wilt.

You can also add it to a bean soup. Or if you have some of our cassoulet beans in the freezer, you could add cleaned escarole to those beans while you’re reheating them. You could add sausage to this mix and breadcrumbs on top.