The Answer to Midwinter Salad Fatigue
Singing the kale salad blues? Escarole could change your tune. Get to know this sturdy, flavorful winter green — and our 5 favorite ways to prepare it.
What It Is
Although escarole looks like lettuce, it’s actually a type of endive, which accounts for its bittersweet and slightly peppery flavor. What makes the green such an asset in the kitchen is its versatility — escarole is sturdy enough to braise or bake until meltingly tender but equally delicious served blanched or raw and crisp.
Buying and Storing
Look for full heads with more tender, light-green center leaves than dark outer ones. The bunch should be smooth and blemish-free with no brown tips. Trim off the base to separate the leaves and wash under cold running water. Dry well, then wrap in several paper towels, seal in a bag, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
How to Use It
Quartered heads can be brushed with oil and quickly grilled. Hardy outer leaves can be braised or chopped and used in stir-fries or sautes. Mix tender inner leaves with romaine to add flavor to a Caesar salad. Stir a couple handfuls of torn escarole into a soup or stew; it pairs especially well with white beans and sausage.
Escarole Salad with Green Apple Vinaigrette and Crispy Shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons white-wine or Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons diced peeled Granny Smith apple
1 large head escarole, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus 1/2̇ cup tender inner leaves
1. In a small skillet, heat oil and shallot over medium-high; cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer shallot to paper towels to drain and season with salt and pepper. Let oil cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, and apple. Slowly add oil from skillet, whisking until combined. Season with salt and pepper, then add escarole and celery stalks and leaves. Toss to combine and top with shallots.
Bacon-and-Escarole Grilled Cheese
Leftover bacon fat makes these sandwiches crisp and flavorful — no butter required!
12 slices bacon (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
8 slices sourdough bread
6 ounces sharp cheddar, sliced
1/2 small head escarole, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces