escarole with cannellini
Every time I look at escarole in the supermarket, I think, how can you cook
lettuce? Yet I know you can cook this escarole and it can be really good, even
if it looks just like the other green leafy stuff nearby actually called
lettuce, which nobody every cooks. So why do I usually walk away with no
escarole in my hands?
Tonight I resisted this irrational response and managed to get the escarole
into my basket. And brought it home where a can of cannellini beans were
waiting, and had been waiting for some time. Beans are another food favorite we
don't seem to be able to cook with very often, even though they are usually on
hand. So this dish overcame two food hurdles at once. Of course garlic is a
natural additive here, and it is a small extra step to toss in a sprinkling of
red pepper flakes as well. Ani actually executed the dish and the red pepper was
her good idea. This dish is quick and very rewarding. And delivers tasty protein
if the rest of the meal does not have any dead animal products. We actually
served this with some Trader Joe gnocchi and some leftover amatriciana red sauce
that had some bits of pancetta in it, but hardly sufficient to do anything but
frighten away vegetarians. We ate the whole thing.
- 1 head of escarole, cleaned, spun dry, and chopped
- 4 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 leek, cleaned and chopped finely (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- a sprinkling of red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- 1 15 oz (425 g) can of cannellini (white beans)
- Cut off the tight end of the escarole to release all the individual leaves
and wash in a salad spinner and spin dry. Then chop up into bite-sized
pieces. Set aside.
- Open the canned beans and drain.
- Clean and chop the optional leek.
- Press the mandatory garlic onto the cutting board.
- Heat the oil and sauté the garlic and optional leek with optional red
pepper flakes, salt and peppering to taste, being careful not to burn the
- Before that happens toss in the escarole. Stir around a bit letting the
greens wilt, then stir in the beans, cover and let cook a bit over low heat.
- Our first experience with escarole was at a legendary small seafood place
in South Philly where you had to wait across the street in a bar for an hour
or more before you could get a table:
Where we (and many others) learned we had a big weak spot for grilled
octopus, done right. We only went once, although we managed to visit the
more accessible second location once or twice over the many years since. The
garlicky escarole was a side dish. Convincingly good. Never forgotten. A
web search brings up many praises for this legendary destination. Give
it a try while it still exists.
- Illustrations available.