Monday, March 23, 2009

Recipe for Sauteed Escarole with Parmesan and Toasted Pine Nuts

Sauteed EscaroleEscarole is a plant I've been fascinated by ever since I wrote What's the Role of Escarole for BlogHer over two years ago. Since then I'm embarassed to admit the number of times I've passed it up at the market, or worse, bought some and never used it. So I was determined to use this head of escarole, even though a funeral and a trip to Austin postponed it until the escarole was getting impatient. If you're not familiar with escarole, it's a type of endive that can be eaten raw or cooked. Here's more about escarole from CookThink, where they also share a lot of good ideas for cooking it.

I thought escarole was fun for Weekend Herb Blogging, but even more fun is that when I made Cannellini Bean Soup with Sausage and Escarole for WHB a year ago, the host was Anna from Anna's Cool Finds, and this week Anna is hosting again. To participate, check the rules, posted at Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, which is now headquarters for WHB.

I cut the escarole in half through the core, and then trimmed off the core end of each piece. Then I sliced it into ribbons just over an inch thick.

Since my escarole had been hanging out in the fridge and had some brown edges, I washed it in the salad spinner, and spun dry.

Recently I discovered I had an abundance of pine nuts that were close to the "use-by" date (something my mother would have called a good problem to have.) I have no idea if it's traditional, but I toasted some to throw on top of the escarole when it was done.

Escarole only takes a few minutes to cook, especially since I wanted to retain just the tiniest bit of crispness. I heated a wide non-stick pan, added some olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and here's the escarole when it first went in.

I turned it over about every minute, so here it is just over a minute later, starting to wilt but still pretty much filling up the pan.

Here's one more shot, after about 3 minutes. I cooked this big head of escarole for 4 minutes, to get wilted greens that were not completely soft. It's a personal preference, so if you like your greens a bit softer, cook then a tiny bit longer.

If you have some kind of wonderful sea salt, use it to season the escarole after it's cooked. Regular salt will also be fine, but I used this fantastic salt I got from Lydia when I visited her in Boston.

Sauteed Escarole with Parmesan and Toasted Pine Nuts
(Makes about 4 side-dish servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from some recipes listed below.)

1 large head escarole
1 T olive oil (use more or less, depending on your pan)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T pine nuts, toasted in dry pan
1 T Parmesan Cheese
sea salt to taste

Cut escarole in half, cutting top-to-bottom through the core. Then lay flat on cutting board and cut off the core end, cutting about an inch above the core to cut off some of the thickest part of the leaves. After core is removed, slice escarole into ribbons just over an inch thick. (You can also chop the ribbons slightly, which I always do because I hate long pieces of greens.) Wash escarole if needed, and dry well. (I used a salad spinner.)

Heat a small frying pan, add pine nuts and toast in dry pan until nuts start to slightly brown, shaking the pan all the time the pine nuts are toasting. (You will smell them just before they turn color, which is a signal that it's time to turn off the heat or move the pan away.) This doesn't take more than 2-3 minutes at most.

Heat a heavy non-stick pan over medium-high heat, then add olive oil (and red pepper flakes if using) and add escarole a handful at a time, turning over each time you add more. Saute escarole. turning about every minutes, until it's slightly wilted but not completely soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove escarole to serving dish, season to taste with salt (preferably sea salt), sprinkle with Parmesan and sprinkle pine nuts over. Serve immediately. This is best while still hot from the pan.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Sauteed greens like this are a perfect side dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet. I was a bit generous with the pine nuts above, but although nuts are high in fat, it's considered a good fat for South Beach.

More Ways to Cook Escarole:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Cannellini Bean Soup with Roasted Italian Sausage and Escarole from Kalyn's Kitchen
Mom's Italian Escarole and Bean Soup from Food Blogga
Sausage, White Bean, and Escarole Soup from CookThink
Turkey Escarole Soup from The Perfect Pantry
Braised Escarole with Apples and Bacon from The Kitchn
Sauteed Escarole with Currants and Capers from Shazam in the Kitchen
Escarole with Fried Garlic, Dates, and Shaved Cheese from Whipped
(Want even more escarole recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. WOW, that looks great! Cooking a healthy greens side dish *that isn't boring* is a huge challenge for me, so thank you for sharing this one!

  2. Sounds wonderful! I love new ways to cook greens--this is really unusual, and I'm sure the pine nuts add a great dimension. I've only had escarole raw until now so must try this. So sorry to hear about the sad events that postponed the recipe.

  3. Carole with an "e" in NYCMarch 24, 2009 at 7:19 AM

    I'm just leaving the house, get your emailed recipe, and now I know what I'm making tonight. Thanks for this. Used to make escarole all the time too and always loved it. Have no idea why I stopped making it.

  4. that looks nommmm! i love the slight resistance and toasty nuttiness the pine nuts give!

  5. Looks delicious -- anything with parmesan and toasted pine nuts is going to be excellent :-)

  6. I've never had escarole, now I have a way to try it. Thanks.

  7. I'm a fairly recent convert to escarole, too. Whether I use it in soup or as a side dish, I always put a bit of red pepper flakes in it, so I'm glad to see that you do, too. And a good finishing salt makes all the difference!

  8. I have been going gaga for escarole lately!! I like it because it's kind of in between the texture of lettuce and greens (more substantial than iceberg lettuce, not as sturdy as mustard greens/kale/etc.)

    This recipe looks really simple and yummy!

  9. You've gotten me thinking about buying some escarole now! Great post for WHB! Funny how the timing of my hosting turned out.

  10. Great recipe! My gardener friend just harvested the last of her greens and gave me huge bag of lovely escarole. This is such a nice alternative to making soup.

  11. Lucille, lucky you to have a source of home-grown escarole!


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips