Escarole, also known as broadleaf endive, is a leafy green vegetable and member of the chicory family. Other members of the chicory family include radicchio, frisée and endive. Escarole leaves are broad and pale with the taste a less bitter than it’s siblings. If you closed your eyes you might think you were tasting radicchio.
Escarole is high in Folic Acid, Fiber, and Vitamins A and K. You can eat it raw or cooked. In the early summer the leaves are tender and soft, and as they mature the leaves get a little denser, with a texture that works well in soups or stews along with cannellini beans. It’s a plant that thrives very late in the growing season, so extremely versatile. The heart, or palest part of the of an escarole head, is less bitter because the leaves haven’t gotten as much sunlight.
With the weather so warm, it’s hard to get excited about a hot soup or stew so salads are the way to go for the dog days of summer. After picking up some juicy peaches I got the idea of mixing them together, knowing the sweetness would be a great match to the mild bitterness of the greens.
To dress the salad I made a really easy vinaigrette that can be whipped up in minutes. All you need is sherry vinegar and olive oil. Mixed with the peach puree it’s a tangy and sweet concoction. Add a little chèvre and marcona almonds and you have a real winner. The only recommendation is to lightly dress the salad right before serving. Young escarole leaves are delicate, with a texture similar to butter lettuce, and will wilt slightly after you add the vinaigrette. Click on this link to see my easy recipe for: Escarole, Peach and Chèvre Salad.
This coming Saturday, July 13, I will be demoing this delicious salad at the Ossining Farmers Market from 10:30 to Noon. I hope you can stop by for a little taste!