Escarole, which is a type of endive, has “ruffly” leaves that can go from dark, dark green on the outside to pale, pale green (almost white) on the inside. It grows somewhat like a bouquet with the cut root at the bottom of the leaf bouquet. Sometimes in the grocery store, escarole is this huge flat dish-like thing that looks like something you kill in your lawn every summer. Sometimes it is a delicate, ruffle of lovely leaves. We want the paler, lovely leaves. If it is sold by the bunch, it’s fine to buy the bigger, rougher looking greens and just discard the tough, bitter, really dark leaves on the outside. If it’s sold by the pound, it can get expensive throwing that stuff into your compost so look for the palest, most delicate offering. Escarole can be dirty…after all it’s grown in the dirt. Cut or tear the greens off near the root end and discard any blackened edges (the rest of that leaf is fine). Discard the very dark green leaves (they can be especially bitter) and soak in a large bowl of cold water for about five minutes, letting the dirt and sand fall to the bottom of the bowl. If the greens are very dirty, do this two or three times. LIFT the greens into a colander. DO NOT DUMP THE BOWL INTO THE COLANDER!! This holds true for any vegetable or lettuce that you are washing to get clean. You are dumping the dirty stuff right back on the thing you are trying to clean! DUH! Bet ya never thought of that!
Confession: I actually learned the reason for not dumping in culinary school.
Now take the greens and dry them in a salad spinner or wrap in paper towels and store in refrigerator; the paper towels will absorb the water and dry the greens. You are now ready to use the greens in a salad, add them to soup, or use as a side dish.
This recipe is found at Italian restaurants everywhere and is one of my favorites. So laughably simple that I am reluctant to accept compliments on it and so delicious that I have been known to eat the entire result for lunch
Escarole with Garlic
- 4 C. washed escarole, chopped coarse
- 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil or butter or a combination
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Drop chopped escarole in all at once, submerging all the greens. Bring the water back to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
Take the pot to the sink and run cold water into the pot to stop the cooking.
Drain the cooled greens and press out as much moisture as you can.
Heat the oil and/or butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Sauté the garlic until soft, but not brown-about 1 minute.
Add the dried greens, raise the heat and sauté, stirring constantly until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve.