Escarole (Cichorium endivia var. latifolia) is one of the main varieties of endive, a leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy family. Escarole is also called broad-leafed endive, Batavian endive, scarola or scarole and is less bitter than the other variety of cultivated endive which is curly endive, or frisee. While it looks a bit like a head of lettuce, it is flatter with more broad, ruffled leaves that are lighter in color towards the center.
Escarole is high in fiber, folate and vitamins A and K. Store it unwashed in a loose plastic bag in the fridge where it will last up to a week. To use, wash and remove outer leaves and cut out the core. It is edible raw in salads, especially the more tender, milder, lighter-colored, center leaves. However, it is very common, especially in Italian cooking, to use it cooked in soups - try searching for traditional escarole soups, there are many variations. It can also be sauteed or used in vegetable ragouts. To remove some bitterness before sauteeing it, try cooking it by dropping it into already boiling lightly salted water until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Squeeze out moisture and then sautee - try it in garlic and olive oil and adding raisins and pine nuts.
Penne Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Escarole
1 (16 ounce) package dry penne pasta
1 head escarole, chopped
1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans, with liquid
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, drained
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and cook the penne pasta 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook and stir the escarole, cannellini beans and liquid, and diced tomatoes with garlic and onion until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the cooked pasta to serve.