Wilted Escarole with Garlic and Lemon

August 24, 2006 at 4:33 pm (Dark leafy greens, F (0 stars, inedible), Italian, Jack Bishop, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

I was surprised to see escarole at the farmer’s market this summer, but was pleased to be able to diversify my greens selection. I have mostly used escarole for a “beans and greens” dish like at Girasole here in Pittsburgh, but decided to branch out and try something new. This recipe is from the Complete Italian Vegetarian cookbook by Jack Bishop.


  • 1 large escarole head (about 1.25 pounds)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • salt and fresh ground pepper


  1. Discard any dry or tough outer leaves from the escarole. Trim and discard the core and tough stems. Was the leaves in successive bowls of cold water until grit no longer appears in the bottom of the bowl. Shake the leaves to remove the excess water but do not dry them. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the escarole to the pot. Cook, turning occasionally, until the leaves are tnder and the stem ends are just a little crunchy, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

My Notes
I was surprised that this dish only had lemon zest but no lemon juice, and indeed the lemon flavor was quite subtle. I ended up adding lemon juice to get more lemon flavor, but still the dish didn’t wow me. Maybe I didn’t use enough olive oil? (I probably used less than called for.) The escarole was soft and slightly bitter, and needed something else besides just lemon, maybe some spice?

Rating: C


  1. CHeryl said,

    I made this dish once before, in addition to the lemon zest, I also added a bit of orange zest. I thoroughly enjoyed it ,I had leftovers and ate it the next day. I liked it more the day after, everthing melded just right. I will be cooking this same recipe in a few minutes and will be adding fresh spinach as an experiment. I learned to eat escarole when I lived in Italy and get very excited when I see it at the green grocer or in the supermarket.

  2. Susan said,

    I had a head of escarole from my garden and tried your recipe last night.
    I liked it alot and actually got to eat it all because John said it was too bitter for him.
    I might have overccoked it a little. I will try again. I have 2 more heads in the garden and don’t like it raw.

  3. What to do with a lot of lemon or lime zest? | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] With escarole, like this wilted-escarole-with-garlic-and-lemon-c/ […]

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