Jul
11
    
Posted (Lori) in News

USING ESCAROLE

FROM: TheKitchn.com

Lettuce is lovely, don’t get me wrong — it’s a tender and sweet bare canvas, ready to accept any other ingredients. But escarole, the leafy green chicory, comes with a pleasant bitter taste that makes it all the more interesting to eat. Paired with the right partners, it is out of this world. It comes in a range of sizes — from small softball-sized heads to much larger ones — just choose firmly packed heads with vibrant and unblemished leaves. The juicy, crunchy white middle ribs and heart, as well as the inner lighter green leaves, are bittersweet — the best parts for raw preparations. The outermost dark green leaves are bitter and chewy; reserve them for cooking.

Here are the top three things you must know about escarole to get some of its good bitterness in your life.

1. Escarole is versatile.

You can enjoy it raw or cook with it; braise, grill, or sauté escarole. Tear it into pieces and add to soups, such as minestrone or a white bean stew. Dress raw leaves with a garlicky vinaigrette or pair leaves with a creamy dip. Remember, the inner leaves are best for raw preparations and the outer leaves are best reserved for cooking.

2. Many ingredients pair beautifully with escarole.

At first taste, escarole doesn’t seem as compliant as lettuce, but there are lots of ingredients that pair beautifully with escarole.

Try escarole with a combination of any of the following partners and you can’t go wrong: almonds, apples, arugula, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, beets, blue cheeses, butter, butternut squash, cannellini beans, cream, celery root, currants, fennel, feta, fontina cheese, garlic, goat cheese, Gruyere, hazelnuts, hazelnut oil, honey, lemon, Manchego cheese, olive oil, onion, orange, oregano, Parmesan cheese, pasta, pears, pecans, persimmons, pine nuts, potatoes, radicchio, raisins, red pepper flakes, rice, shallots, stone fruits, strawberries, sunchokes, thyme, walnuts, walnut oil, wine vinegars (red and white).

3. Raw escarole loves fruit.

Apples, pears, and persimmons are exceptional complements, but citrus and stone fruits work too. You can compose an escarole and fruit salad any which way, but here’s my favorite version. You can (and should) mix it up with your favorite vinaigrette, nuts, and fruit. Add cheese, too, if you wish. Also try warming the vinaigrette.

How to Make an Escarole and Fruit Salad

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar, 2 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed), and a generous pinch of salt and pepper; let marinate briefly. Whisk in 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil (or walnut oil), and 2 tablespoons olive oil. (Add minced shallots if you wish.) Add more salt and pepper to taste. Remove the garlic cloves. Toss torn escarole leaves with the vinaigrette, sliced apples, persimmons, or pears, and toasted hazelnuts (or toasted walnuts or almonds). Top with crumbled Gorgonzola or Roquefort (or Manchego cheese).

Scarola aglio e olio (Sauteed Escarole)

In Campania, contorno by Frank30 September 201216 Comments

One of the oldest nicknames for the people of Campania was mangiafoglie, or ‘leaf eaters’, because they were known for their prodigious consumption of leafy green vegetables. It was probably a matter of necessity as much as preference back in the day. Wander around just about any open piece of land in Italy and you’ll find wild greens of all sorts, yours for the picking free of charge. Today, most people no longer need to forage for their food, but the habit of eating leafy green vegetables has stuck.Angelina was no exception to the rule. She loved her green vegetables and, although she was not exactly a vegetarian, no meal was complete without a salad or some sautéed or braised vegetables to round things out. The two Ur vegetables of Angelina’s cookery were cicoria, or chicory, and scarola, or escarole.

Sauteed escarole is another version of the basic ripassata technique. Here, however, you can enrich the basic dish with two different variations. You can add olives, anchovies and capers, or pinoli nuts and raisins, both classic combinations in Italian cooking. Some people even add both combinations, but that, to me, is really gilding the lily.

Ingredients

Serves 4 people as a contorno, or side dish

2 heads of escarole, well washed

Olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed

Salt and pepper

Optional

A handful of capers, well washed and squeezed

A handful of black olives

4 anchovy fillets

A handful of pinoli nuts

A handful of raisins, soaked until soft and drained

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt and add the escarole, which you will have cut at the root to separate the leaves. Let the escarole boil for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, fry the garlic gently in a generous amount of olive oil. Remove the garlic when it has just slightly browned. (Or you can leave it in, if you’re cooking for family and feeling a little lazy.) Turn off the heat. (This will let the oil cool down a bit, so it doesn’t splatter all over the place when you add the wet greens in the next step.)

Transfer the escarole from the pot to the sauté pan with a pair of tongs. Let the escarole drain before you add it to the pan, but letting some water still cling to the leaves.

Turn the heat back on, stir the escarole so it is well coated with the oil, and season with salt and pepper. (Go easy on the salt if you’re using the first optional ingredients, as they are also quite salty.) Cover the pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

If using the optional ingredients, add them to the pan, mix them into the escarole, and re-cover the pan. Let the escarole simmer for another 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and check on the escarole. It should be very tender and flavorful. If it’s still a bit tough, let it simmer another few minutes. If it lacks for seasoning, add a bit more salt and pepper. If the vegetables are too watery for your taste, turn up the heat and boil off the excess liquid.

UTICA GREENS

This dish was popularized by Joe Morelle in the late 1980s at the Chesterfield Restaurant in Utica, N.Y., where it is on the menu as greens Morelle. More widely known as Utica greens, it has become commonplace, in modified versions, in Italian restaurants throughout central New York, and even migrated to New York City, Las Vegas and Florida. This version of the dish is fairly spicy. Use fewer cherry peppers if you prefer it less hot. You will have leftover oreganato, the topping of bread crumbs and cheese; use it for another greens dish or add it to baked chicken or shrimp. Typically served in restaurants as an appetizer, Utica greens makes a great main course at home with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE OREGANATO:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup bread crumbs

½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

FOR THE GREENS:

1 head escarole, about 1 1/4 pound, bottom removed, leaves separated and washed thoroughly to remove grit

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces), sliced thin and cut into roughly 1-inch squares

4 to 6 hot cherry peppers (pickled will do if you can’t find fresh), tops and seeds removed, broken by hand or chopped into 4 or 5 chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus 2 or more tablespoons for garnish

PREPARATION

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set aside.

–Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, prepare the oreganato: Mix the oil, bread crumbs and cheese until well blended. It should have the texture of moist beach sand. Set aside.

–When the water is boiling, blanch the greens until they are nearly limp but still a little firm, about 1 to 2 minutes. Plunge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove and drain them well in a colander or salad spinner, allowing them to remain moist but not dripping wet. Squeeze just a little of the moisture from them, then chop them into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

–Heat the broiler. Coat a large pan with the olive oil. Over medium heat, sauté the prosciutto, cherry peppers and garlic until the prosciutto is browned and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. (Lower heat slightly if garlic begins to brown too quickly.) Add the chopped greens to the pan, season with salt and pepper and stir to mix well.

–Add 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and 1/2 cup of the oreganato. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently to blend, scraping the bottom of the pan to keep the oreganato from burning.

–Sprinkle another 1/4 cup oreganato atop the greens. (Save leftover oreganato for use in another greens dish, or add it to baked chicken or shrimp.) Place the pan under the broiler and broil until the top browns, about 2 minutes. Remove from the broiler and sprinkle a bit more cheese on the dish. Serve immediately.

WHITE BEAN AND ESCAROLE SOUP WITH GARLIC

From Epicurious

Ingredients

4 SERVINGS

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 large carrot, cut into small dice

5 large garlic cloves, peeled, flattened

3 cups (packed) 1-inch pieces escarole (about 1/2 large head)

4 cups (or more) canned vegetable broth or low-salt chicken broth

3 1/4 cups cooked Great Northern beans or two 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained

1 14 1/2- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large Dutch over medium-low heat. Add onion, carrot and garlic and sauté until onion is golden and tender, about 7 minutes. Discard garlic. Add escarole; stir 3 minutes. Add 4 cups broth, beans and tomatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until escarole is tender and flavors blend, about 20 minutes. Thin with more broth, if desired. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.

n  Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
Kimberly Killebrew, www.daringgourmet.com

Serves: Serves 4-6

The term “wedding” soup comes from the Italian minestra maritata, “married soup”, referring to the flavor produced by the “marriage” or perfect blending of greens, broth and meat.

This soup enjoys a long, rich heritage, though very different from the Italian Wedding Soup we know today.  Its origin isn’t clear but it’s thought to date back to ancient Rome and then made its way to Toledo Spain. The soup’s Spanish ancestor was a heavier one, incorporating a variety of meats that were slow-simmered with vegetables and without the addition of pasta (an expensive commodity at that time).  From Spain the soup was introduced to Naples, Italy (second image below) where they too used any combination of meats such as beef, pork, ribs, sausages and ham hocks to create a rich meat broth  The Neapolitans made it their own with the addition of ancient greens like torzella, escarole, puntarelle, chicory and savoy cabbage.   Just as it was in Spain, the minestra maritata was a peasant soup using whatever leftover meats and wild greens they had on hand.

The soup eventually made its way from Naples to America via Italian immigrants who replaced the long-simmered cuts of meat with meatballs and used onions, generally one type of leafy green vegetable and added pasta.  And it came to be called “Italian Wedding Soup.”

The earliest known reference to “wedding soup” in American print is an article in the Los Angeles Times from 1925 written by Joseph Musso of Hollywood’s oldest restaurant, The Musso & Frank Grill, wherein he described the process of making Wedding Soup.  It has since remained perhaps the most iconic Italian-American soup and can be found in nearly every Italian restaurant across the nation.

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground meat (beef, pork, chicken or turkey or a combination of them combined with some sausage)

¼ cup plain breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)

1 large egg

1 clove garlic, finely minced

¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

¼ cup grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Soup:

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

8 cups homemade chicken broth

1 cup acini di pepe or other tiny pasta

1 large bunch leafy greens, roughly chopped (e.g., kale, escarole, curly endive, spinach)

Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Red pepper flakes for serving (optional)

Instructions

1      Place all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl or food processor and knead with your hands or pulse with the food processor until thoroughly combined.

2      Form the mixture into tiny meatballs, about ½ inch in diameter and place them on a platter or cookie sheet. Wrap them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them until ready to use.

3      In a medium stock pot, heat the oil and cook the onions and garlic until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil.

4      Gently drop the meatballs into the soup followed by the pasta. Let the meatballs and pasta simmer for about 10 minutes.

5      Add the leafy greens and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until wilted.

6      Add salt and pepper to taste.

7      Dish up the soup and serve sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

8      Optional (a tradition in some circles): At very end, once the greens are wilted, whisk 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese together with 1 large egg. Stir the broth to get it moving and gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the broth, stirring it gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg.

Notes

*The meatballs can be made a day in advance as a time-saver and kept refrigerated.

*The longer the soup sits the more liquid the pasta will absorb, so if eating leftovers add more chicken broth.



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