This worthy, crisp green is a versatile ingredient in everything from fresh salads to Italian soups. Here are some tips on how to prepare and cook it.
A member of the chicory family, escarole can add crispness and personality to plain green salads. Its broad, white-spined, curly-topped leaves start out light at the bottom and darken to a rich green at the top. Unlike frisée, whose leaves should be trimmed of their bitter tips, a head of escarole yields very little waste.
Escarole is also a key player in many Italian soups, including our Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup. Though escarole is less assertive than its cousins Belgian endive and frisée, its bitterness brings complexity to the soup. Also, its resilient leaves turn supple when cooked but don’t fall apart, and the base and spine of each leaf add a little texture. Look for heads bristling with sturdy, unblemished leaves.