The first escarole of the season made it’s way to the CSA Shares this week, and this dish is the perfect way to enjoy it! Escarole is a bitter green in the chicory family, it looks very similar to lettuce but has a very different flavor. Escarole is slightly bitter when raw, it is good in salads like our Beet and Escarole Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts, and also very good when lightly cooked.
Here is escarole is paired with garlic, lemon, and crushed red pepper to balance the bitterness. The greens are topped with fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan for a vegetarian take on the popular dish “Utica Greens” Chop and clean the escarole, then assemble the ingredients.
I pressure cooked the beans. If you like dried beans, then I definitely recommend trying a pressure cooker. Soak your beans overnight or bring them to a boil, then soak one hour. Cook according to pressure cooker directions. A can of chickpeas will also work fine! Heat the olive oil, then add chickpeas, lemon, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Add the escarole, and cook for about 5 minutes. Toast the olive oil and breadcrumbs together then mix with the parmesan. Top the greens with breadcrumb mixture and serve.
Spicy Escarole with Sausage
1 head of escarole, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko*
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
salt + pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté crushed red pepper, garlic, lemon and chickpeas until garlic starts to crisp. Add escarole to the pot, lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until escarole is lightly cooked. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
While the escarole is cooking. Toast the breadcrumbs in one tablespoon olive oil. Remove from heat and mix in cheese. Sprinkle over escarole and serve.
Variations. Try the omnivore version. For gluten-free use gluten free breadcrumbs or make your own breadcrumbs with gluten free bread.