Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mark Bittman's spicy escarole with croutons and eggs

I have never eaten escarole.

Escargot. Yes. Bien sûr. Escarole. Non.

I googled escarole and learned that it was a form of endive (which I have eaten) or common chicory. Well hello again, chicory, my old friend. Before my decades in the land of cowboys, I spent several wonderful years festooned with Mardi Gras beads and bemoaning the then-hapless Saints. Coffee done New Orleans-style blends coffee with roasted, ground chicory root. The chicory root adds a flavor that has been likened to dark chocolate. I'm craving beignets and a muffaletta.

But I digress.

Escarole looks like a lettuce, visually similar to a head of romaine. Bittman's escarole recipe calls for wilting it with some garlic and topping it with a soft-boiled or poached egg and homemade croutons. Easy. Relatively healthy. Can't get better than that.

The result? So delicious. I think I've developed an unhealthy obsession with escarole. Or is an obsession with escarole always considered healthy? The only downside...and it was a major one...was that I had not washed the escarole well enough. So the dish was very gritty. Sandy. Earthy in a not so good way.

My tip of the day: wash your escarole thoroughly. Swirl it in a bowl of clean water. Gently lift out escarole. Discard sandy water. Repeat until the water remains clear.

For this recipe, I used a really good loaf of rustic bread and one large head of escarole. That loaf was enough for croutons and lots of garlic bread. Despite my hopes, my children would not touch the escarole. I, however, have become an official Bittman follower (see my sidebar for a link to his site).

Spicy escarole with croutons and eggs
From Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman

Cut good-quality bread into one-inch cubes; toss the bread with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper and toast them until golden, about three or four minutes. Cook a bunch of chopped escarole in two tablespoons of butter for about five minutes, or until wilted. Toss the escarole with the croutons, a pinch or two of red chile flakes, freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve the greens and croutons in bowls with a soft-boiled or poached egg on top, along with more Parmesan.


  1. Isn't life great when Google helps with the cooking? I never, ever would have attempted to do anything with kale without it :)

  2. I know! How did we ever live before Google?? It's where I go if I get asked something I don't know. Which is very, very often so basically, I live on Google. What did you do with kale?


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