August 5, 2013
Escarole is one of those vegetables that, when it finally arrives, usually towards the end of winter, brings with it relief and hope of a new season. It seems to show up just when I’m done with tired end-of-winter greens and roasted vegetables. So imagine my surprise when I spied escarole at a market recently, all bright green and fresh-leafed. It was odd, but I couldn’t resist. Sometimes odd is good.
And good this was.
Though I think of escarole as a cold-weather vegetable, the truth is that I cook it, even in the dead of winter, much like a summer vegetable. It only needs a light touch, just enough heat to wilt the bitter away and pull out the sweet. It felt good cooking this in the summer. Right, even with the evening temperature in the 70’s.
I’m a sucker for pairing escarole with white beans and sausage. To keep the classic combination light and summery, I grilled the chorizo. I also kept from making this brothy. This is not a stew—save that for fall. Instead, serve this simple sauté over a scoop of polenta and a crisp white wine and juice for the kids, of course.
Grilled Chorizo, Escarole and White Beans
(Can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)*
1 lb fresh chorizo in casing*
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more to finish
1/2 a medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 head escarole, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 whole roasted peppers, roughly chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Pre-heat grill. Add sausage links and grill until cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before cutting cooked sausage into 1/4″ slices. (Alternatively, you can roast the sausage or cook it in a pan. If you choose to cook it in a pan, I suggest that you cut the raw sausage into 1/2″ slices and sauté them in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once cooked through, remove the sausage from the pan and wipe it out before continuing to step 2.)
2. In the meantime, heat tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
3. Add broth and greens. Toss to coat the greens and cook until they wilt and the liquid cooks off nearly completely before adding white beans and roasted red pepper. Stir to combine all ingredients and cook for 1 minute to bring flavors together. Take the pan off of the heat and toss in vinegar. Season with salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning. Finish with a healthy glug of olive oil.
*Note: Be aware that fresh chorizo can come mild or quite spicy. Be sure to check which you’re buying, especially if you plan on sharing this with little ones. To adapt this for beginner eaters, simply puree some of the greens, beans and peppers to an age appropriate consistency. You can add a little sausage too, if you’ve decided to start meat early and you’re sure that the sausage isn’t too spicy for your little one.