Native to the East Indies, endive and escarole were introduced into Egypt and Greece at a very early period and references to them appear in early history accounts. Escarole is a member of the leafy chicory family, widely cultivated in England from at least the 1500’s and is a popular green in Sicilian cuisine. The plants were, eventually, brought to America by colonists.
Endive is closely related botanically to chicory and the two names are sometimes incorrectly used as synonyms. Escarole is another name for a type of endive with broad leaves and “endive” is used to designate plants with narrow, finely divided, curly leaves. Equally confusing are the two types of endive plants that you will see in your produce aisle. These greens are used raw in salad, or may be cooked like spinach. The slightly bitter flavor adds zest to a mixed salad.
The outer layers of the escarole plant are dark green but after peeling back a layer, it will reveal a slightly lighter shade of green. Each layer will reveal a slightly lighter shade of green, and as the leaves lighten in color, the bitterness will also significantly lessen. What this means is that in preparing a dish, one can use different layers of escarole in order to achieve a particular taste that one wants.
Few young people, these days, have ever heard of escarole and I wonder how many have ever tasted this leafy green. In the world of Italian-American foods, escarole may be second only to Sunday “gravy.” Escarole finds itself in soups, in recipes with beans and in stuffed versions. A very important use of escarole has been for a New Year’s Day soup, a soup that most Italian Americans called “Straciatella,” which means something like “rag soup.” The name comes from the way the greens and the beaten egg swirl about shapelessly in the chicken broth. Then, there is escarole and beans, one of my grandfather’s favorites.
Purchase and Care of Escarole
Choose firmly packed heads with unblemished leaves. Crispness, freshness, and tenderness are essential factors of quality. Wilted plants, especially those that have brown leaves, are undesirable, as are plants with tough, coarse leaves. Such leaves will be excessively bitter.
How to Store: Wrap escarole in paper towels and store in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.
What are the health benefits of Escarole?
Escarole is rich in many minerals and vitamins, especially folate. A 1/2 cup serving of escarole provides 36 mg of folate.
Escarole is a good source of vitamin B complex, A, C, and K.
Escarole is high in fiber and is also an optimum source of minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, sodium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium.
Escarole is fat free, low in carbohydrates and calories. It can be added to any diet plan and 100 grams of fresh leaves will only be around 17 calories
Escarole is enriched with a good amount of antioxidants that are derived from Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A is also an essential vitamin for vision, healthy hair and glowing skin. Consumption of natural greens also protects from lung and oral cavity cancers.
So next time you are in the produce aisle, pick up a head of escarole and make one of the following recipes.
Italians incorporate an abundance of vegetables into their diet. This is a very typical and simple preparation of a traditional vegetable. Serve as a side dish with your favorite entrée or a pasta with a hearty tomato sauce.
- 2 heads escarole, about 1 3/4 lbs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons pine (pignoli) nuts
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To prepare escarole:
Cut out the core of each head, then cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Rinse leaves several times in cold water until all dirt has been rinsed off. Drain escarole of as much liquid as possible prior to sautéeing.
Combine olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan and heat together over medium heat until the garlic begins to lightly brown. Be very careful not to burn garlic as it will turn bitter. Remove the garlic with tongs and discard.
Add the pine nuts, raisins, capers, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the pine nuts are golden and the raisins puff, about 1 minute. Add the escarole, increase the heat to medium high, and cook, tossing often, until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover the pan for a few minutes so that escarole can braise in its own liquid and lose some of its bitterness. Uncover and let liquid evaporate. Escarole is finished once it is tender (approximately 5 to 6 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.
Escarole and Beans
This dish is best served with warm crusty Italian bread.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large heads escarole, torn into bite sized pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (16 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
Wash escarole well in several changes of water
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for one minute. Mix in escarole, turning to coat with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until tender.
Pour in beans and chicken broth, and simmer until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley; simmer 10 minutes more.
Using marmalade in a dressing allows you to put a little sweetness into a salad without adding additional sugar. Orange Marmalades range in flavor and texture, so your dressing will vary, depending on which sort you choose. Some are more sweet, others more bitter. Use the marmalade you like best.
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
- 1 teaspoon orange zest, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
- 1/2 pound small button mushrooms, sliced thin
- 4 ounces escarole (inner leaves are good for this dish), torn into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)
- 4 ounces baby spinach (about 4 packed cups)
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- Flaky coarse sea salt
Make the base for the dressing: In a small saucepan, combine the shallots, oil, 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt and a generous pinch of pepper. Heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are very soft and just lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature.
When the shallots have cooled, add the marmalade plus the orange zest, the vinegar, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon each fine sea salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine, then whisk in the lukewarm water.
In a large serving bowl, combine the escarole and spinach. Add the dressing and toss. Season to taste with crushed flaky coarse sea salt and pepper, then add the mushrooms and walnuts. Gently toss to combine and garnish with extra orange zest, if desired.
Caponata-Style Escarole With Fish Fillets
- 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets, (6 ounces each) other firm white fish fillets
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 large head of escarole (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored and coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
- 10 anchovies (about 3 ounces), drained and coarsely chopped
- 10 oil-cured black olives, halved and pitted
- 2 tablespoons salted capers, well rinsed
- Flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
Thinly slice off both ends of one lemon. Cut into 8 thin slices. From remaining lemon, squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice into a bowl.
Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over moderate heat until deep golden, about 2 minutes; discard the garlic. Add the escarole to the pan along with the anchovies, olives and capers. Cook, stirring constantly, until the escarole turns bright green and wilts, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange salmon or other fish fillets on top; season with salt and pepper. Place 2 lemon slices on each fillet. Cover, and cook until salmon is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.
Transfer salmon to a plate. Stir lemon juice into escarole mixture. Serve fish over the escarole and garnish with parsley.
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
- 1 large head escarole (1 1/4 pounds)
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons chopped rinsed capers
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten or 1/4 cup egg substitute
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the upper third of the oven.
Quarter escarole, lengthwise, leaving base attached, and rinse well. Cook in a medium pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) 6 minutes. Drain and cool.
Meanwhile, bring 1 quart water to a boil with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium saucepan. Add rice and parboil, uncovered, 10 minutes (rice will not be tender). Reserve 1/2 cup the cooking liquid, then drain rice in a fine sieve.
Cook pine nuts in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add beef and brown. Add peppers, raisins, capers, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until raisins begin to plump, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add rice. Cool slightly, then stir in egg and 1/4 cup cheese.
Cut off and discard base from 1 escarole quarter, then gently spread leaves to create a 4-inch-wide area. With base end nearest you, place one fourth of rice mixture in center of bottom half of one escarole quarter. Fold base of leaves over rice, then fold in sides and roll up rice in escarole. Put, seam side down, in a 2-quart flameproof shallow baking dish, then repeat with remaining escarole and stuffing.
Drizzle with reserved rice cooking liquid and remaining tablespoon of oil, then sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove foil and turn on broiler, then broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese is browned, 4 to 7 minutes.
- Escarole, Kale, White Bean and Tomato Lasagna (thebittenword.com)
- Fall Recipes for Escarole (morainefarmcsa.wordpress.com)
Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States, so it is good to know that it is a naturally renewable and sustainable resource. I live in the heart of shrimp country on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We are able to purchase wild-caught shrimp year round. However, not all shrimp is sustainable and there is a big taste difference in the shrimp you buy frozen from the supermarket and US wild-caught shrimp. Most likely the shrimp you bought at the supermarket or the shrimp dish you ordered at a restaurant was not from the sea.
Ninety percent of the shrimp eaten by Americans is imported from countries such as Thailand, India and Ecuador, where industrial shrimp farms are harming the environment and coastal communities, and producing unhealthy, flavorless shrimp. Unlike imported shrimp, US wild-caught shrimp, are unlikely to contain the chemicals that are used heavily on many foreign shrimp farms. The impact on the environment from shrimping in the United States is far less significant than those of many foreign shrimp farms. Most US shrimp spawn offshore in deep water from early spring through early fall and grow very quickly. Additionally, choosing shrimp from the Gulf, the Carolinas, Maine or Oregon supports the economic well-being of U.S. coastal communities.
There are four species of wild-caught shrimp commercially harvested in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic waters. Shrimp species are categorized by shell color: pink, white, brown, and royal red. The majority of the shrimp harvested in my area are the pink species.The meat is white with pink skin tones, firm texture and mild flavor.
Wild-caught white shrimp has a sweet taste and firm, almost “crunchy” meat which makes it a favorite of local chefs to use in a variety of recipes. They are harvested primarily in the fall from October through December. With a lifespan of up to 24 months, they can grow as large as eight inches.
Florida brown shrimp are harvested year round in both the Atlantic and Gulf waters with the highest yields June through August. Brown shrimp are named for their reddish brown shells and have a firmer texture than other varieties due to a higher iodine content. They can grow as large as nine inches long and have a maximum life span of 18 months.
Florida royal reds with their deep red color and soft, delicate texture have a unique taste that you won’t find in any other shrimp. Royal Reds are frozen onboard the ships and contain more salt than other shrimp so do not add salt to the water when cooking. Royal red shrimp are harvested in the deep Atlantic waters off the coast of St. Augustine with peak season in late summer through fall.
HOW MUCH TO BUY
- Raw, headless and unpeeled shrimp: 1/3 pound per serving.
- Peeled and deveined shrimp: 1/6 pound per serving
- Two pounds of raw, headless, unpeeled shrimp will yield 1 pound of cooked peeled and deveined shrimp.
- Shrimp are sized and sold by count (number of shrimp per pound) either whole or headless. For example, headless shrimp of 16-20 count means there are 16 to 20 headless shrimp per pound. Counts for headless shrimp range from under 10 (the largest shrimp) to 300-500 (the smallest.
- Store shrimp in the coldest part of your refrigerator at 32 degrees F and use within two days, or freeze at 0 degrees F for up to six months.
- Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home.
Some of My Favorite Shrimp Recipes
- 1 cup Progresso Italian Panko Crumbs
- 1/3 cup very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- big pinch of crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Lemon wedges
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a large baking pan.
2. In a bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parsley, garlic, red pepper, lemon juice and zest. Add 2-3 tablespoons oil, just enough to moisten the crumbs.
3. Arrange the shrimp in the pan in a single layer, curling each one into a circle. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the crumb mixture onto each shrimp. Drizzle with a little more oil.
4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp, or until the shrimp turn pink and the crumbs are lightly browned. Serve with lemon wedges.
Grilled Garlic Tomato Shrimp
- 1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), shelled and deveined, with tails left intact
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and patted dry, chopped fine
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Salsa Verde, recipe below
Mince together the tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Turn into a medium bowl and stir in the hot pepper and olive oil. Toss shrimp with the tomato mixture. Keep cold in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp on a lightly oiled, medium-hot grill, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until pink and just firm. Serve with Salsa Verde.
- 2/3 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons drained capers
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
Put the parsley, capers, the garlic clove, the lemon juice, anchovy paste, mustard, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse just to chop, six to eight times. With the machine running, add the oil and chicken broth in a thin stream to make a slightly coarse puree.
How to Butterfly Shrimp for Stuffing
1. Use a sharp paring knife to cut along (but not through) the vein line, then open up the shrimp like a book
2. Using the tip of the paring knife, cut a 1-inch opening through the center of the shrimp.
3. After the shrimp have been butterflied and the opening has been cut, flip the shrimp over when placing in the baking dish, so that they will curl around the stuffing.
4. Divide the stuffing among the shrimp, firmly pressing the stuffing into the opening and to the edges of the shrimp.
Crab Stuffed Shrimp
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
• 1/2 cup egg substitute
• 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
• 2 tablespoons light or low fat mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 pound lump crabmeat
• 1 pound large shrimp
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Peel shrimp, leaving tails on; devein and butterfly shrimp according to the directions above.
Place shrimp in a baking dish coated with cooking spray with the tail pointing up and the shrimp curved into a circle. (Fan the tail out for handle)
Mix first 7 ingredients and gently fold into crab meat. Place a spoonful of crab meat mixture on top of the circle. Top with fresh parmesan and place baking dish in 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
Stuffed Shrimp Oreganata
- 1 pound large shrimp (16-20 per pound)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups of fresh bread crumbs
- (made from Italian bread, crusts removed and processed into crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail intact. To butterfly them, follow the directions above. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the shrimp in a single layer.
Heat the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, soft and just beginning to turn golden – do not brown. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Mix well.
Spoon even portions of the breadcrumb mixture over each of the butterflied shrimp. Using your fingers, gently mold each portion of stuffing around the shrimp. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.
You will need the following amounts for 2 servings. Recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
- 12 large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup egg substitute
- 1/3 cup Progresso Italian Style Panko Bread Crumbs
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup homemade marinara sauce, warmed, see post https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/
- 3/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray a baking dish that fits the portion of shrimp you are making with cooking spray.
Place the egg substitute in a shallow bowl, and the Panko breadcrumbs in another.
Wash and dry the shrimp. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Put shrimp in the bowl with the egg substitute to coat and then into the breadcrumbs. Place in the baking dish.
The shrimp can be prepared ahead up to this point. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Drizzle the top of the shrimp with the olive oil and bake on the middle oven rack for 12 minutes.
Pour sauce evenly over shrimp and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Return to the oven and heat just until cheese melts about 3-4 minutes.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Spaghetti
In Italy the phrase “alla fra diavolo”, which means “in Brother Devil’s style,” refers to a dish in which chicken is sprinkled heavily with black pepper and then grilled. In America, lobster fra diavolo became a popular restaurant dish in the 1930s—it was unknown in Italy, where they do not have American lobsters. The reference to “brother Devil” refers both to the red color of the lobster and the tomato sauce and to the hot bite provided by the chile pepper, which suggests that this sauce might have originated with Abruzzese cooks who came to this country. Abruzzo is renowned for its hearty and spicy dishes that use hot red peppers, called diavolini (little devils) that grow well in that region of Italy. Crushed red chile peppers give this sauce a better flavor than cayenne pepper but you may need to adjust the amount based on your tolerance for hot peppers. I choose to make this dish with shrimp instead of lobster.
2 (28-ounce) containers Pomi chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt, taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 fresh basil leaves, torn into quarters
In a Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the bay leaves and stir them in the oil until they begin to brown, about 10 seconds. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the onions, carrots, and oregano. Cook the vegetables until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent them from scorching.
Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, salt and pepper, and clam juice. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered until the sauce thickens, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Remove bay leaves.
Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.
Stir crushed red pepper into sauce and lay the shrimp in the sauce, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the shrimp turn pink, 4 to 6 minutes. Adjust the seasonings, add basil and serve over spaghetti.
- Shrimp Recipes: 13 Easy Ways To Cook Shrimp (huffingtonpost.com)
- Free the Shrimps (foryourowngood.org)
- Garlic Shrimp Pasta with Broccoli (thegoodcookermom.wordpress.com)
- Shrimp. Italian Style (sweetpaprika.wordpress.com)
- Stuffed Shrimp (spoonfeast.com)