In Season: Flavorful, slightly bitter escarole thrives in cool weather. It grows from fall through winter, and can be found year-round in most supermarkets.
What to Look For: A head of escarole looks like curly lettuce, and can be as small as a softball or as large as a soccer ball. Choose firmly packed heads with unblemished leaves.
How to Store: Wrap escarole in paper towels and store in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Escarole and Walnut Salad
Sherry vinegar-shallot dressing complements the slight bitterness of escarole. This sophisticated salad takes just five minutes to prepare.
Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Escarole
Sweet butternut squash and creamy ricotta join sauteed escarole in this wintry vegetarian pasta dish. Toss the spaghetti in a light brown-butter sauce.
Wilted Escarole with Apples
In this winter side dish, diced Granny Smith apples are sauteed with shallot until soft. Chopped escarole leaves are tossed with the hot apple mixture and a splash of cider vinegar and allowed to wilt before serving.
With a bittersweet and slightly peppery flavor, escarole is popular in Italian cooking. This recipe calls for it to be sauteed until meltingly tender, so it makes a most delicious side dish.
White Bean and Bacon Soup with Escarole
Creamy white beans and escarole add body to this soup, while applewood-smoked bacon and fresh thyme add depth. This recipe calls for one pound of cannellini beans to be soaked overnight; however, you may substitute four 15-ounce cans of beans.
Escarole Salad with Apples and Pecans
Sliced apple, toasted pecans, and escarole leaves make a pleasing combination of flavors and textures. The salad is tossed with white-wine vinegar and Dijon mustard dressing.
Escarole and Meatball Soup
Escarole and kidney beans are simmered in chicken stock to create the base of this Italian-inspired soup. Meatballs made from ground pork and beef, currants, and lots of fresh oregano are a hearty addition.
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Gorgonzola and Escarole
Escarole sauteed in butter and garlic takes on a silky texture. Paired with nutty whole-wheat pasta and Gorgonzola cheese, you'll never miss the meat in this boldly flavored vegetarian main dish.
Salmon with Escarole and Lemon
Salmon fillets are topped with lemon slices and cooked on a bed of escarole, garlic, and red onion in a pot on the stove top. This quick one-dish meal is ready in just 35 minutes.
Black-Eyed Peas with Escarole, Potatoes, and Turkey Sausage
Escarole is sauteed in butter until tender and mildly sweet, then mixed with black-eyed peas, potatoes, and broiled turkey sausage to make a complete meal. To save time, you may use two 15-oz cans of black-eyed peas in place of dried.
Fennel, Escarole, and Radish Salad
Robust and mildly bitter escarole is an excellent match for spicy radishes and fragrant fennel bulb. This winter salad is tossed with champagne vinegar and olive oil, and garnished with fennel fronds.
Braised Escarole with Currants
Currants, anchovy fillets, garlic, and red pepper flakes are a classic flavor combination in Sicilian cuisine, and provide an excellent complement to mildly bitter escarole. A splash of sherry and a spoonful of brown sugar soften the flavors, and slivered almonds provide a pleasing crunch.
Escarole, Blood Orange, and Walnut Salad
This colorful winter salad features a mixture of blood orange segments, escarole, celery stalks and leaves, and chopped walnuts. The easy vinaigrette is made from blood orange juice, champagne vinegar, and olive oil.
Tortellini in Broth with Escarole
Escarole provides perfect balance for the richness of cheese tortellini in this Italian soup. Using canned chicken broth and purchased tortellini, this quick and easy dinner is ready in just 15 minutes.
To make this easy and versatile side dish, escarole is sauteed with garlic and olive oil until tender. Serve with roast pork or broiled fish, or toss with hot cooked pasta.
Lentil and Escarole Soup
French green lentils are braised with onion, garlic, carrot, and canned tomatoes. Escarole is stirred in at the very end and cooked just until tender. The soup is topped with homemade croutons just before serving.
Pasta with Sausage and Escarole
Spicy Italian sausage is cooked with a wine-cream sauce seasoned with parsley, rosemary, and red-pepper flakes. Escarole is simmered in the sauce just until wilted, and then rigatoni pasta is mixed in.
My Mother's Chicken-Escarole Soup
Cookbook author Joan Nathan shares her mother's recipe for flavorful and comforting chicken soup. Chicken leg quarters are boiled for two hours, then celery, carrots, onion, parsnip, dill, and parsley are added. Chopped escarole is stirred into the soup just before serving and cooked for a few minutes until wilted.
This savory tart is filled with a mixture of escarole, garlic, anchovies, Kalamata olives, and golden raisins. The pastry dough for this tart is flecked with parsley, chives, and thyme.
Escarole Salad with Celery and Pine Nuts
This bright-tasting salad adds crunch to any winter meal. The lively vinaigrette is made with red-wine vinegar and mustard and any leftover can be used to dress greens or roasted vegetables.