Derek and I used to love the escarole and beans appetizer at Girasole in Pittsburgh. It consisted of braised escarole and white beans in a rich tomato sauce. It was hearty, warming, and satisfying. I hadn’t thought about it for years, until this week I saw a green that looked a lot like escarole at the farmer’s market. I asked the farmer what it was and he called it “Endivien”–the German word for endive. I asked him if you could cook with it and he said Germans only ever eat it raw in salads. But it looked similar enough that I decided to try making escarole and beans with it. There are tons of recipes online for escarole and white bean soup, and a few for escarole and bean dishes, but none seem to call for tomato sauce. So I decided not to try to follow a recipe. Nonetheless, my beans and greens came out quite well.
- 1 medium onion (about 175 g), chopped
- about 1.5 Tbs. of minced garlic
- 2-3 Tbs. olive oil (I used 3)
- 1/4 – 1 tsp. chili flakes
- one large head of escarole, about 1 pound edible part, sliced or torn into strips
- 1/2 tsp. fine salt
- 1 cup vegetable broth (I used 1 cup water + 1 low-salt bouillon cube)
- 400g cooked, salted white beans, well rinsed (about 2.25 cups)
- 275g unsalted tomato sauce (about 1.15 cups)
- 1.5 – 3 ounces parmigiano-reggiano, grated [optional]
- Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Let it sit for a bit.
- Heat 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Saute the onion and garlic on medium until onion is translucent and garlic is just starting to turn golden around the edges.
- Add the chili flakes and the escarole. Stir the escarole a few times until all the escarole is wilted. Add the vegetable broth and salt and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and beans and let simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the escarole is tender.
- If you like, add another tablespoon of olive oil before serving. Serve topped with grated parmesan.
This recipe makes about 4 small or 3 large portions. There’s nothing fancy about this recipe, but both Derek and I enjoyed it. It’s warming comfort food. And since I had white beans cooked it was pretty easy to make once I washed the (very sandy) escarole. The escarole wasn’t bitter at all.
Update Nov 2012: Union Square braised escarole and white beans with tomatoes, mushrooms, and pecorino
I finally found a recipe for escarole and beans that calls for tomato sauce. I found it not on the internet, but on my bookshelf, in the Union Square cookbook.
The recipe has you first make your own tomato sauce out of 1.5 pounds fresh tomatoes and 1 35-ounce can plum tomatoes. I don’t have a food mill, so I just used canned crushed tomatoes. The tomato sauce also calls for 1/2 cup diced onion, 1 tsp. garlic, 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
- 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed [I used 125g, and used the stems as well]
- 1/4 pound white mushrooms [I used 100g]
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 1/4 pounds escarole, washed, dried, and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans [I used more, 350g]
- 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano [I used 4 oz]
- 1 tsp. kosher slat
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the mushrooms into 1/4-inch slices.
- Heat the olive oil over high heat in a 3-quart saucepan and add the mushrooms. Saute untill lightly browned and add the minced garlic. Cook 1 minute, stirring to prevent burning. Add the escarole and continue to cook ove rhigh heat until the greens have completely wilted.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and the cannellini beans, bring to a simmer, and cook 5 to 8 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the cheese, salt, and pepper, and serve.
This recipe tasted quite different than my made-up version above. It tasted much less like what I remember from Girasole. The main difference is that the tomato sauce is much, much brighter tasting. And the addition of rosemary is quite noticeable as well. The mushrooms also added a slightly rubbery, chewy consistency when you get one. Overall I thought this recipe was fine, but I think I like the above version better.