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The Basics of Escarole

Learn to Love: Escarole

One thing I look forward to during the Winter months is the arrival of the leafy green escarole. It's a variety of endive, making it a bitter green, but it's much less bitter than Belgian endive, radicchio, or frisée.

Like most leafy greens, escarole is great for you. It's high in folic acid, vitamins A and K, and fiber. It also contains a good amount of vitamin C and potassium. When shopping for escarole, look for a bunch that is brightly colored with perky leaves, and avoid bunches that have browning or yellow limp leaves. Make sure to wash the leaves thoroughly before you use them and cut off a tiny bit of the stem too. I can usually get away with storing escarole for about five days in a plastic bag in my refrigerator.

What's great about escarole is how many uses you can get out of it. It tastes wonderful cooked in pasta with an olive oil-based sauce, and in Italy it's used widely in hearty Winter soups — one of the most popular being a white bean escarole soup. You can chop up a few leaves raw and add it to a salad for extra dimension, or try it my favorite way: saute the escarole with olive oil, a little salt, fresh garlic, and some chili flakes. I love this dish!

Cooking escarole makes it less bitter, but a trick to tone done raw escarole is to soak it in ice cold water for about 20 to30 minutes. This will also work for other bitter greens too.

Have you tried escarole? Share with me how you like to prepare it in the comments section below.

Source: Flickr User wickenden

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