Get to Know Escarole with These Tasty Recipes Featuring the Underappreciated Leafy Green

escarole beet cherry tomato salad
Photo: Lennart Weibull

It's always there in the produce department but you probably don't give it a second glance. But as these soups, salads, pastas, and side dishes all prove, escarole is the flavor-packed, versatile vegetable that you'll want to start bringing home regularly.

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We think escarole is underappreciated; when is the last time you've enjoyed it at home? If the answer is "I'm not sure" or "Never!" it's time to expand your culinary palate. To inspire you to cook with escarole—and use it in your dinnertime salads—we've gathered our favorite recipes that feature this bitter leafy green here.

If you like radicchio, you really should try escarole. Though different in shape and color, the two vegetables are closely related and have a similar flavor and texture. Both are good raw, as a crudités for a dip or as a versatile ingredient in your favorite salads. But both are bitter, which is why the salad recipes we've included in this selection balance that flavor with sweetness in the form of cherry tomatoes, avocado, or apple, or with other pungent ingredients like lemon, anchovies, and blue cheese.

Escarole is even better when cooked, especially in a soup or stew (we also rate it as a pizza topping!) like our shortcut take on Italian wedding soup and Escarole and Bean Soup. It pairs well with lentils, meatballs, and all kinds of cozy rich broths, adding a flavorful punch that prevents the dish from being too unctuous.

You'll probably see escarole in your supermarket produce section year-round but we tend to use it most in the winter. One of the reasons we are escarole fans is that this flavorful vegetable thrives in cool weather, so it's at its best fall through winter when most other vegetables are not quite as appealing. It's refreshing and inspiring to be able to take a bright green head of escarole home when you've been on a diet of mostly root vegetables.

When you shop for escarole, you'll see that it looks like a head of curly lettuce. It can be as small as a softball or as large as soccer ball. Which size you opt for is up to you, just be sure to choose firmly-packed heads with unblemished leaves. And once you get the escarole home, wrap it in paper towels and store in an unsealed plastic bag. It lasts well if stored like this and should keep for a week.

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Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Escarole

lemon chicken with potatoes and escarole
Nico Schinco

In this one-pan weeknight dinner escarole revs up simple roasted chicken thighs and potatoes after a toss in the pan juices.

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Escarole, Beet, and Cherry-Tomato Salad

escarole beet cherry tomato salad
Lennart Weibull

This colorful salad starts with escarole and features baby beets, which bring earthy sweetness, tossed with chopped dill, cherry tomatoes, and pungent blue cheese. A mild vinaigrette ties it all together.

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Pasta-e-Fagioli Pasta

Pasta-e-Fagioli Pasta
Kate Sears

A 25-minute riff on an Italian comfort food, this dish takes the favorite familiar flavors of the soup pasta e fagioli and turns them into a cheesy pasta with escarole and chickpeas.

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Spicy Escarole

Bryan Gardner

With a bittersweet and slightly peppery flavor, escarole is popular in Italian cooking. This recipe calls for it to be sautéed until meltingly tender, so it makes a most delicious side dish.

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Bitter Greens with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs

Bitter Greens with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs recipe
Lennart Weibull

Use a combination of escarole and dandelion or other bitter greens for this twist on a traditional Italian puntarelle salad. It gets an extra boost of savory umami flavor from capers swirled into the lemon-anchovy dressing. Creamy avocado and ribbons of shaved fennel and celery make a for a cool finish.

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Escarole, Provolone, and Cherry-Tomato Pizza

Roland Bello

Savory provolone, dressed escarole and radicchio, and spicy red-pepper flakes are baked together on the crust. Before serving, sweeten and cool the assertive flavors on this pizza with randomly placed cherry-tomato halves.

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Escarole and Bean Soup

Linda Pugliese

This deliciously filling soup comes together in 25 minutes but tastes like it was slow cooked. It uses both canned chickpeas and canned kidney beans as well as escarole.

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Escarole Caesar Salad with Walnuts

Lennart Weibull

Don't let romaine and croutons have all the fun! Escarole and toasted walnuts also make a scrumptious Caesar salad.

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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 35 minutes.

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Braised Escarole with Currants

Braised Escarole with Currants
Richard Gerhard Jung

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.

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Wilted Escarole with Apples


In this winter side dish, diced Granny Smith apples are sautéed 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.

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Tuna-Apple Bento Box

tuna apple bento box
Justin Walker

Upgrade your lunch by making this not-sad desk lunch with a fresh take on tuna salad which features apple and fennel in a light dressing. Undressed escarole leaves bring fresh crunch.

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Shortcut Italian Wedding Soup

Shortcut Italian Wedding Soup
Alpha Smoot

Escarole is added to each bowl right before serving, then the hot soup, packed with Italian sausage and pastina, ladled over the punchy greens.

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Escarole Salad with Celery and Pine Nuts

David Malosh

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.

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Spicy-Sausage and Lentil Stew with Escarole Salad

Bryan Gardner

Tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, escarole is the essential crunchy topping for this hearty stew.

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Sautéed Escarole


To make this easy and versatile side dish, escarole is sautéed with garlic and olive oil until tender. Serve with roast pork or broiled fish, or toss with hot cooked pasta.

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Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Escarole


Sweet butternut squash and creamy ricotta join sautéed escarole in this wintry vegetarian pasta dish. Toss the spaghetti in a light brown-butter sauce.

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Escarole and Walnut Salad


A sherry vinegar-shallot dressing complements the slight bitterness of escarole in this sophisticated salad, which takes just five minutes to prepare.

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Escarole Tart


Here's a most delicious savory tart that's filled with a mixture of escarole, garlic, anchovies, Kalamata olives, and golden raisins.

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Pasta with Sausage and Escarole

pasta with sausage and escarole
Dana Gallagher

Spicy Italian sausage is cooked with a wine-cream sauce seasoned with parsley, rosemary, and red-pepper flakes. Escarole is added to the sauce and simmered just until wilted, and then rigatoni pasta is mixed in.

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