What It Is
Although escarole looks like lettuce, it's actually a type of endive, which accounts for its bittersweet and slightly peppery flavor. What makes the green such an asset in the kitchen is its versatility -- escarole is sturdy enough to braise or bake until meltingly tender but equally delicious served blanched or raw and crisp.
Buying and Storing
Look for full heads with more tender, light-green center leaves than dark outer ones. The bunch should be smooth and blemish-free with no brown tips. Trim off the base to separate the leaves and wash under cold running water. Dry well, then wrap in several paper towels, seal in a bag, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
How to Use It
Quartered heads can be brushed with oil and quickly grilled. Hardy outer leaves can be braised or chopped and used in stir-fries or sautes. Mix tender inner leaves with romaine to add flavor to a Caesar salad. Stir a couple handfuls of torn escarole into a soup or stew; it pairs especially well with white beans and sausage.
Escarole Salad with Green Apple Vinaigrette and Crispy Shallots
Bacon Grilled Cheese with Escarole and Honey Mustard
Escarole with Olive and Tomatoes
Wilted Escarole with Walnuts and Blue Cheese