I recently spent a couple of food-filled days in New York City and it seemed as though everyone had some sort of escarole-based salad on their menu. The Dutch (Soho) featured one with hazelnuts, shaved mushrooms and parmesan, while Tertulia (Greenwich Village) had one with anchovies and a soft-boiled egg. Mario Batali’s Otto (Greenwich Village) serves yet another with sunchokes and Marcona almonds. And then there was Amali (Upper Easter Side) that had one with parmesan, anchovy and pine nuts. Bottom line: I came home thinking about escarole and over the past couple of weeks, I have been using it for simple weeknight dinner salads.
Escarole is a variety of endive, in the chicory family, and is also known as Bavarian endive or broad-leaved endive. It is super rich in folate, vitamin A and K and fiber. Its leaves are slightly thicker than your average salad green – but not as tough as something like kale or chard – and there is just the right amount of crispness – a sort of romaine-like crunch. Escarole is the most mild of all endive so it is only slightly bitter but also a tad sweet. There is something delicate and exotic about it. Maybe it’s just the fact that is hasn’t been as widely used as other leafy greens like spinach or kale.
One of my favorite new salads is this one: Escarole with creamy goat cheese, marcona almonds, ruby grapefruit segments and a ruby grapefruit vinaigrette, all topped off with some freshly cracked pepper. Bright. Fresh. Light. Everything you want in a Spring salad.
Escarole Salad with Ruby Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Serves 3-4 as a first course
- 1 head of escarole
- 3 oz of goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 ruby grapefruit, segmented and juiced
- handful of Marcona almonds
- 4 oz grapeseed oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp wildflower honey
- sea salt
- cracked pepper
1. Make Dressing. Add honey, mustard and grapefruit juice into a small bowl. Whisk together while slowly adding grapeseed oil. Once well-combined, season with salt and pepper and then chill while you make the salad.
2. Wash escarole leaves well and then dry and tear into pieces by hand before tossing into oversized salad bowl.
3. Add grapefruit segments, almonds and a sprinkle of sea salt.
4. Toss with dressing and then plate. Top with goat cheese and cracked pepper.