Experiments in Escarole

We've got a major escarole advocate on our team (hint: her last name is not Taylor) so we're growing it for the first time this year. Upon discovering that the heads of escarole were big and beautiful and ready to harvest, I had to scramble to find a few recipes to try for Saturday lunch (my favorite meal of the week - both to prepare and to sit down and eat). I can now say, with first hand knowledge, that escarole and white bean soup is simple to prepare and quite delicious. Because it's how we roll, I added some extra spice (dried matchbox peppers from last season) and some sautéed sausage, but those things are by no means required. 

Escarole and White Bean Soup
From Mark Bittman

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
4 anchovy fillets, or to taste
1 fresh or dried chili, stemmed, seeded and minced, or 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, or to taste
1 pound escarole - trimmed, washed and dried
1 cup cooked white beans
3 cups chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put half the oil in a large, deep skillet or casserole and turn heat to medium. Put half the garlic in oil, with anchovies and chilies. Stir occasionally until garlic begins to color. Add escarole and stir; add beans and stock or water and adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cover.

2. Cook about 15 minutes, or until escarole is tender. Stir in rest of garlic and cook another minute, then taste and adjust seasoning, drizzle with reserved olive oil, and serve.

Radish and Escarole Salad with Vinaigrette
Adapted from Food 52

1 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
tablespoons olive oil
Small bunch radishes
large head escarole

  1. To make the vinaigrette, chop the anchovies finely and put them in a medium bowl. Add the vinegar, a good pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify the dressing. Set aside.
  2. Scrub the radishes under running water and trim off the tops and tails. Slice them into thin matchsticks (you should have about 1 cup julienned radish). Put in a large salad bowl.
  3. Clean and dry the escarole and slice it into 1/2-inch ribbons (you should have about 5 cups). Add to the salad bowl.
  4. Toss about two-thirds of the dressing with the salad, taste and add more if you like. Serve immediately.