Local And Seasonal: Escarole Wedge Salad With Pumpernickel Croutons | KCET
Local And Seasonal: Escarole Wedge Salad With Pumpernickel Croutons
Escarole, an ever-so-slightly-bitter lettuce, is prized among Italian cooks but has not yet found a prominent place in American kitchens. Its broad, wavy leaves are both crunchy and tender, and hold up well when paired with robust ingredients. They offer a fine counterpoint to the rich meats and long-cooked braises found on many dinner tables at this time of year.
In Naples, small heads of escarole are stuffed with a mixture of sweet and salty ingredients -- pine nuts, raisins, garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives -- then baked atop pizza. This special dish is traditionally served only on Christmas Eve, but escarole also finds its way into everyday Italian meals, such as a simple winter soup made with white beans and chicken broth.
Escarole tastes a lot like frisée, which is a curlier-leafed variety of the same species, Cichorium endivia. At the center of each head of escarole is a tender core of pearly, pale green leaves. These are sweet and mellow without any trace of bitterness. The outermost, dark green leaves, on the other hand, are a bit tougher and more flavorful. These are most commonly stirred into soups, rather than eaten raw in salads. Call me unconventional, but I love combining both types of leaves; one seems to make up for what the other lacks. My favorite way to eat escarole is in a variation on the classic iceberg wedge salad. For my escarole wedge salad, I make a thick, creamy, Caesar-like dressing with plenty of garlic and anchovies. Sweet pumpernickel croutons stand in for the usual crumbles of bacon.
Join me in sneaking this Sicilian-native into the canon of classic American recipes!
Escarole Wedge Salad with Pumpernickel Croutons
If you're an anchovy-fanatic (like me!), you could drape an additional fillet or two over each salad. As is traditional for Caesar salad, the dressing includes a raw egg yolk, so be sure to buy fresh eggs from someone you trust or choose pasteurized eggs.
Serves 4 as a first course
1 head escarole
2 slices (about 5 ounces) pumpernickel bread
½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 small cloves garlic
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and deboned
1 large egg yolk
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small piece Parmigiano
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Trim the escarole's root-end and submerge the whole head in cool water. Swish it around to release any dirt. Dry by gently whirling the escarole in a salad spinner. If it doesn't fit inside your salad spinner, simply shake off any excess water, then wrap it in a kitchen towel. Place the escarole in the refrigerator to chill.
Tear the pumpernickel into bite-sized pieces and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Using your hands, squeeze the bread so that it soaks up some of the oil. Bake croutons for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, pound the garlic, anchovies, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper in a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, you can use the back of a large knife to smash the mixture, pounding until it is a smooth paste.
Crack the egg yolk into a small bowl. Whisk the yolk gently but constantly while pouring in a few drops of the remaining ½ cup olive oil. (To prevent the bowl from moving around while you whisk, place it on a folded kitchen towel or ask a friend to hold it steady while you pour the oil.) As the oil and yolk emulsify, continue to whisk and to add more oil in a very thin stream, until you've added all the oil. The mixture will be thick. Thin it by stirring in the lemon juice and the anchovy-garlic paste. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more lemon juice, if you like.
To serve, slice the escarole lengthwise into four wedges and place each wedge on a chilled salad plate. Drizzle with some of the dressing and sprinkle a small handful of croutons. Using a vegetable peeler, shave several thin curls of Parmigiano for each wedge. Top with a few grinds of black pepper. The dressing is best on the day it is made.
Can Online Avatars Define Us? Animator Jenna Caravello Dives Into This, the Art of Online Storytelling and Pepe the Frog
Meet Jenna Caravello, the mind-bendingly creative brain who uses video games, interactive installations and animated short films as ways to help us make sense of memory, loss and meaning.
Distributing the COVID-19 vaccines now being developed is shaping up to be the largest and most complex public health effort in L.A. County's history, and concerns are growing that officials are already falling behind, it was reported Nov. 20.
Kai Anderson’s eye-catching, multi-colored, hand-drawn thematic maps have developed a cult following in conservation circles in the American West. He walks us through a map he created of Sen. Harry Reid's major environmental campaigns.
Based in the Peruvian Amazon, Chaikuni Institute blends an Indigenous agricultural practice known as chacras integrales with agroforestry, a permaculture method from Brazil.
- 1 of 397
- next ›