12 November 2011

Escarole salad for lunch

Scarole. Escarole. It's a variety of chicory or endive. The outer leaves are green and slightly bitter. The inner leaves are whiter, more tender, and less bitter. Escarole grows to a huge size and the leaves can be eaten raw as a salad green or they can be cooked like spinach or cabbage. We make salads, mostly, when we have escarole.

Because the leaves are slightly bitter, escarole salads like to be accompanied by sweet or salty ingredients. Diced beets are one classic accompaniment in France, as are cooked lardons salés ou fumées — bacon or ham, smoked or salt-cured. So are croutons — cut some French bread into small cubes and toss them in a big bowl with olive or other oil. Toast them until browned and add to the salad after you've tossed it in a vinaigrette dressing.

I took the scarole out of the fridge a minute ago so that you
could see how big it is. We've already had two escarole
salads, and what's left still weighs over 2 lbs. (a kilo).

Minced raw garlic in the vinaigrette dressing — a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of vinegar, and three tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil plus some salt, pepper, and minced garlic — is perfect with escarole or other bitter greens. Substitute chopped shallot or finely chopped onion for the garlic — that's good too.

Did I mention that escarole is good with a poached egg?

Escarole salad with diced beets is excellent, if you like beets/beetroot. Add some toasted walnuts with the beets, or make the salad with toasted walnuts instead of roasted beets. I think I'll make that one today, since we had escarole salad with beets day before yesterday.

We had good luck poaching eggs by breaking each one into
a ladle and then gently sliding them into simmering water.

What about yesterday? We put together a big escarole salad that made us a full lunch. Garlicky vinaigrette as described above, sautéed smoky lardons of pork belly, and a poached egg or two on top. As a side dish, another ingredient that loves vinaigrette: boiled red potatoes, served slightly warm with the "bacon and egg" salad. Don't forget to put the pepper grinder on the table, and the red wine. French bread too...


  1. Ken, we love the crunch that escarole has... like Iceberg lettuce or Romain... but with a better winter flavour.
    We use "Fruity and Nuts"* as the oil for dressings... or sesame oil and light soy sauce [or dark, depending on the strength of flavour of the ingredients]
    "Fruity and Nuts" is Phillipe Vigean's "Huile Fruitee aux Noix"#
    which is a 70/30 mix of colza [rapeseed] and walnut oil... great for making croutons as the walnut flavour doesn't seem to vanish.
    #[there should be an acute accent on the first E in fruitee... but I'm on the laptop without the number keypad...sorry!]

  2. Thanks for the ideas, Pollygarter, especially the mention of walnut oil, some of which I have in the refrigerator. I toasted the walnuts and used one-third walnut oil along with two-thirds sunflower oil in the dressing. I'm sure it's going to be good.

  3. You've made me hungry :-) so must go and put lunch together [omelette aux champignons and little gem salad].

  4. Yes, I'm another reader you've made hungry! I'm off to have breakfast now! Your meal sounds inspiring for later today.

  5. I'm always glad to be reminded of the proportions for mustard vinaigrette... I always end up googling your blog to find out. Silly, isn't it? You'd think I'd write it down somewhere :)) Or just remember! I always put too much mustard.

    That escarole looks marvelous and crisp and fresh.

  6. Ken

    Question: do you put white vinegar in the boiling water to poach the eggs?

    I use your method of the ladle also but I do include the vinegar - otherwise it is hit or miss :-)

  7. TB, yes, I do use the white vinegar. I've never tried poaching eggs without it, so for me it is a kind of superstition. One day I'll try poaching them without vinegar to see what the difference is.

    Judy, after a while making vinaigrette becomes second-nature. I guess you have to do it nearly every day for that to be true.

  8. I discovered I don't like garlic in my vinaigrette.

  9. I had poached eggs Meurette sauce for lunch today and didn't forget the mandatory white vinegar.

    The first time I made poached eggs, years ago, I didn't know how to proceed and dropped the egg right away in boiling water. The white didn't coalesce at all and the yolk, not protected, was cooked too much, almost hard. What a mess!

    Now, I know better. I've been using a ladle also, instead of a small teacup which works great too.

  10. CHM, I don't have any teacups! Your comment made me realize that. We just use demi-tasses for espresso or mugs for coffee or tea. I know you've been un as at making poached eggs for years now. I'm slowly getting better at it.

    Everything I read says the key to making good poached eggs is to use the freshest eggs possible. Maybe I need to keep some chickens so that I'll be sure how fresh my eggs are.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?