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Escarole

Jul 16, 2020
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Widely used in Italian-American foods, this lettuce variety dates to ancient Roman times.

Appearance & Flavor

Escarole leaves are crunchy, crisp, and wide with a slight curl. The outer leaves are dark green, but the closer to the center you get, the lighter green they become. They taste bitter and have a nutty undertone. The darker the leaf, the more bitter the flavor. Make sure to choose one with a firm head and tight leaves-with no discoloration or mushy feeling.

Ways to Enjoy

Try to cool down this summer with this salad that has a kick! You can also try it in sandwiches, and lettuce wraps. However, cooking escarole can reduce its bitterness. Try adding it to stir-fries, soups, and stews, or on its own braised or sautéed.

Availability & Origin

Though the peak seasons are spring and summer, you can still get escarole all year long. They were native to the East Indies, but now 90 percent of the United States’ supply is grown in Salinas, California from March to November and then in Yuma, Arizona from November to March.

Storage

For a whole head, do not rinse it, but wrap it in paper towels and store in an unsealed bag in the crisper drawer for up to four days. Uncooked and unwashed leaves can be stored in a perforated bag in the crisper for about three days. After being cooked, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge to get two days tops out of them.