In the beginning of the video, my mom is commenting to me all the different ingredients you can add to the escarole (which of course I knew, but it was nice to hear her say it). Every way she mentions is delicious. This time, nothing was added.
Mom and I had a psychic moment. I was planning to make escarole yesterday. Mom went to Meat Farms and came home with three big, beautiful heads of escarole. I decided to film the expert; my teacher. Of course, when mom cooks, I become the sous chef. I hold the title proudly.
Escarole is packed with nutrients, low in calories and absolutely delicious. I've loved it since I was a young child. It can be served as a side dish or, with added ingredients, as a main course. My family loves to eat it with slices of fresh Italian bread.
So how do you prepare escarole? Let's get started.
Step one is to clean it thoroughly. It holds a lot of dirt and who wants to eat gritty dirt. Yuck. Of course, wash your sink well with soap and hot water.
Fill sink with cool water (too cold and it will sting your hands) and place the escarole into the sink to soak for a little bit. You are going to keep dunking the escarole in and out of the water, like you used to play dunking games in the pool as a kid! (see how mom does it in video above). You will have to drain the sink, rinse it as shown in the video and fill it again.
You will have to do this two to three times depending on how much dirt the escarole is holding. You can see the grit in the bottom of the sink in the picture above.
Pile clean escarole in a large bowl. Fill a big pot with cold water, add salt and put on stove to boil. (see video) While waiting for the water to boil, you can prepare your oil and garlic.
Pour some olive oil into another pot. It looks like a lot, but it's not. There's a lot of escarole. Cut garlic (it's good for you) in slices (mom swears it adds to the taste and she's right) (see video) Italians love garlic. My sister and I went to a garlic fest on the East End of Long Island not long ago. What a fun afternoon.
Put garlic in cold. Heat on medium and cook garlic until it floats, don't brown it, (see video) YOU DO THIS AFTER YOU PUT THE ESCAROLE INTO THE BOILING WATER TO COOK (see next steps below).
Slice your clean escarole (see video) and pile back into bowl. It's now ready to go into the pot of boiling water. You won't cook it long. You want it a bit firm. Keep an eye on it and test it with a fork. Otherwise, you will have a pot of mush. Not what you want.
Take large handfuls of escarole and place into pot of water. You may have to push some down to fil it all in. Once all the escarole is in, give it a stir. Now is when you will start cooking your garlic in the oil.
The escarole will float. Give it a couple of stirs. When the garlic floats and the escarole is ready, take the escarole out of the water and place it into the garlic. Turn off heat under the garlic before you start this process. You don't want garlic to burn. Scoop some of the water from the pot the escarole boiled in into the pot of escarole with oil and garlic (see video)
Add salt to taste and stir well. I ate mine with two small baked potatoes and Chinese cabbage. (Recipe for that on next blog post) Why I don't eat meat.
The smell of the raw garlic and then the aroma of the garlic cooking in the oil is exquisite. The beautiful green color, smooth texture with a slight crunch on certain pieces of escarole is satisfying with every forkful. It is perfectly presented and colorful. For funny stories, click the link on presentation and color above.
The escarole is delicious left over. You can add other ingredients or just heat it up as is. I love making a big dish when cooking and using the leftovers the next day. I used my other half of my spaghetti squash for lunch yesterday and just added homemade marinara sauce to it.
I can't give amounts, I can only give ingredients. Most Italians don't cook with measurements, they cook with heart. My mom taught me to add ingredients until "it looks good". So, judge for yourself.
Escarole (it shrinks when cooked, so at least 3 big heads) If served alone as a side, should feed approximately four people. If served with added ingredients as a main course, will probably feed six to eight people. Of course, the size of the escarole varies. So you will need to judge for yourself.
Garlic Cloves (a lot)