In this article, we're discussing escarole. We'll tell you all about the taste, texture and uses for this lovely leafy green in your cooking, plus some tips and tricks for boosting its flavor.
Let's get started...
What Does Escarole Taste Like?
Escarole is a type of chicory belonging to the same family as radicchio and endives. It's a bitter green, fresh-tasting with a slight bite that pairs well with sweet, juicy and piquant flavors.
Even though escarole looks like typical lettuce, the flavor is closer to that of kale, more potent and sharp. This is what people love about escarole—it's anything but boring.
There's an excellent crispness to escarole, even when cooked. The leafier parts are thicker and chewier than regular lettuce in a way that's reminiscent of spinach.
You'll do more chewing with escarole than with romaine or green leaf lettuce. This is because it's fairly dense. However, it's not tough or difficult to chew—just hearty.
Can You Eat Raw Escarole?
Yes! You can eat escarole raw like lettuce or baby spinach in a salad. Many people like to mix escarole with their salad greens for a variety of textures and tastes.
You may also enjoy it massaged with a pinch of sea salt and olive oil like kale salad. If the outer leaves of a head of escarole are tougher than you'd prefer, this is a good way of breaking down the plant fibers to soften everything up.
What Is Similar to Escarole?
Any bitter green will be similar to escarole. Some of the most notable mimics for flavor and texture are endive, radicchio and dandelion greens.
Kale is something like escarole, but it's tougher, more bitter and "greener" in taste. Arugula may also replace escarole in a salad, but arugula tends toward a strong peppery flavor.
Why Is My Escarole Bitter?
Raw escarole has a natural bitterness that you may not be able to get around. It is worth noting that the outermost leaves are the most bitter, so simply trimming these away could produce a milder flavor.
If you're cooking escarole and you find that its bitterness becomes more pronounced, you may be cooking it a little too long. You could also try adding a little salt and lemon juice—this is a trick that works with many bitter greens and veggies.
Escarole Serving Tips
Escarole can be used in a wide variety of dishes, including soups and main meals. If you've never cooked with it before, watch these videos to see some simple methods with stunning results.
Here's a recipe for a veganized Italian white bean and escarole soup that's perfect for a light lunch with crusty bread. Here are all the ingredients you'll need:
- Veggie broth
- Salt and pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Fire-roasted tomatoes
- Cannellini beans
- Fresh thyme
- Vegan parmesan and toasted bread for serving
Watch this video to learn how to make easy braised escarole for a tasty side dish (plus a little tip for cutting down on the cry factor of onions). You'll need the following ingredients:
- Shallots or onions
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fresh parsley
Raw or cooked, escarole is a dense but crisp bitter green that makes zesty salads and vibrant sautes. Soup is a brilliant way to cook with it as the texture holds up nicely and the flavor blends beautifully. Cooking escarole can be as simple or fancy as you'd like, but make sure you try it braised with onions and garlic to get an idea of how flavorful it is virtually all by itself.