New Food Friday – Escarole

21 Dec

Escarole is a vegetable that many Italians are familiar with but because I am so fond of it, I wanted to feature it on this New Food Friday for the folks who haven’t tried it. I’m always having to explain what it is to the supermarket cashiers when I buy it! 

Escarole Head

Beautiful Escarole Head

In fact, the cashiers think it’s lettuce. I tell them it’s escarole and they can never find it in their computer.  I go through the same conversation with them every time! But I don’t care as long as they keep stocking escarole.

One of the first things I’d like to mention about this vegetable is that it’s beautiful to look at! I’m not kidding. A head of escarole is a thing of beauty like a bouquet of flowers. Some say to stop and smell the roses. I say, stop and admire the escarole.

It is beautiful enough to be thrown by a bride at a wedding except that you can eat the escarole bouquet!


                             Bride throwing inedible bouquet                           kathalpha

The second thing I like about escarole is that you can eat it uncooked in a salad, or if you prefer, you can cook it and serve it hot. How many vegetables can you say that about? Ok, carrots.  Sure, celery. Yes, bell peppers. OK, never mind. Forget I asked. Here I’ve torn it into pieces.


Escarole torn pieces in skillet


I like to put it raw in a sandwich and use it just like lettuce.

I never see anyone else buying escarole. I think they must order it just for me. Sometimes they get heads that are so big I can hardly fit them in the plastic bag! (The escarole, not the supermarket people.) These are grown locally and boy, they must have a good strain of them because they are delicious besides being beautiful. Escarole is also reasonably priced: $1.99 a pound. Wow! I just realized it’s gone up in price. But then, what hasn’t!

The only down side is that sometimes it is sandy. I usually leave it in the plastic bag that I stuffed it in at the store and run the kitchen cold tap water in it a few times and rinse the worst of it out.  Then I put it in my Tupperware-like large green plastic bowl (see photo below) and fill that with water a few times and drain it. That usually takes care of all the sand and dirt.


Escarole soaking in water

Escarole is a slightly bitter green but when you cook it or braise it, it loses it’s bitterness and develops a sweetness. Lately, I’ve been steaming it in a large frying pan with a few tablespoons of water. (Of course I chop up a garlic clove, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and a few flakes of red pepper to the pan.) This cooks covered for about 20 minutes or until the leaves are tender. Then I remove the cover, continue cooking it, and let most of the water evaporate.


Escarole braised with garlic

If some of the leaves get slightly browned, that A-OK to me! Don’t forget to add salt to taste. I serve it with chicken, or a pasta dish. It goes well with most meat dishes.

Italian Wedding soup

                  Italian Wedding Soup                     flickr: devlyn 

However, I love escarole so much that I have been known to stuff it inside a piece of Italian or French bread and enjoy a nice cooked “green” sandwich for lunch! A seeded roll will work equally as well. In a pinch I will also put it on rye bread.

Another thing about escarole is that many people chop it and add it to soups, like the well-known Italian Wedding Soup.

Escarole is closely related to chicory, radicchio and Belgian endive.  It is very low in Cholesterol and a good source of Vitamin E, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a great source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

I can’t promise that someone will propose to you and you will get married if you eat escarole, but who knows?

Beautiful Bride

Beautiful Bride papaleguas



9 Responses to “New Food Friday – Escarole”

  1. 鄭南榕 May 3, 2014 at 4:48 am #

    Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this website regularly, this website is really
    fastidious and the viewers are truly sharing nice thoughts.


  2. reocochran January 23, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Sorry about the way this did not follow your questions (see above!)


    • Marcella Rousseau January 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      Sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about. So, apologies not necessary! ; – )


  3. reocochran January 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    I am remiss if I never told you that I take kale and shower it lightly with olive oil and bake it with sea salt until it becomes tan and crisp. It happens quickly, I have lost the recipe so just watch it carefully. It is like a chip. Weird reaction. Check online for recipes and temp.
    I wanted to ask you if you knew that Benjamin Franklin’s birthday was on Jan. 17 and my Farmer’s Almanac calendar talks about how he is credited for bringing kohlrabi to Colonial America? Did you know that it comes from the words “cavolo rapa” which in Italian means “cabbage turnip?” I was going to give you an idea of checking Farmer’s Almanac for fun facts to insert in your already interesting posts… You may already do this! Take care and stay warm!


    • Marcella Rousseau January 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      Oh yes, that is the way I’ve made kale too. But it takes so long to make that way and it’s so good that it’s gone under a minute! I thought you might have another way. I’ll check the Internet, not to worry.

      I didn’t know that about kohlrabi or that it comes from the Italian language. Yes, cavolo means cabbage in Italian. It is also used as a term of endearment! Little cabbage? Something like that. Either my youngest cousin in Italy called me that or I called her that; I can’t remember anymore, it’s been so long.

      I haven’t been checking the Farmer’s Almanac but that is a good source. Thank you for that! I’ve lost some steam for my New Food Friday posts and maybe the Almanac will reinvigorate me. I’ve only got 1/2 of my post ready for this Friday and I usually have them done on Monday! I’m getting worse and worse! LOL! Where does all the time go? I spent a lot of time Tuesday making cinnamon raisin bread. Wow, what a lot of work! And I’m not one to complain about baking work because I enjoy it! But jeeze! LOL! Fortunately, the recipe made 2 loaves so I put one in the freezer. The recipe called for 3 eggs and I added 2 cups of white whole wheat flour so it’s very nutritious and no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients!

      I wanted to make toast of it this morning but I was late getting up so I skipped toasting it or even buttering it! I wanted to get to my health club before the predicted snow (which never happened.)

      I’ve got a bunch of frozen seafood soup that I made and put in my freezer. Soups are good at keeping you warm! Eat soup! : – ) Thanks again for the Almanac!


  4. reocochran December 29, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Interesting, I love it raw now I have to try it braised with garlic! I have felt that kale and cabbage become sweeter but was not thinking about escarole doing the same thing.


    • Marcella Rousseau December 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      How do you prepare Kale? I need to eat more of it but I’ve found it to be very tough. What do you do with it? I’m glad you commented. How can I get to your blog? It isn’t under your name: reocochran. What is the name of your blog?


    • Marcella Rousseau January 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      OMG, great minds think alike! I just wrote a post on your blog about cabbage!!!! Freaky!!! Yes, cabbage does get sweeter too so I suppose it follows that kale will too. Thank you! I put it on my grocery list for tomorrow. I can’t believe you like escarole. You are the only person I know, other than my family who likes escarole!



  1. New Ideas For Winter Vegetables « jovinacooksitalian - January 14, 2013

    […] New Food Friday – Escarole ( […]


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