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Beans and greens don’t have to be boring

Posted By Debbie McDuffee On July 21, 2010 @ 10:00 AM In Clack,Columns,Cuisine,Fresh Foodie,General,Main Dishes,Recipes,Side Dishes,Vegetarian | Comments Disabled

In the interest of trying new foods, I grabbed some escarole off of the choice table of our CSA farm a couple of weeks ago. I was told that it was a versatile, somewhat bitter green that can be cooked or used raw in salads. Loving radicchio and arugula as I do, I thought I’d give it a try.

A day or two after bringing the escarole home, I pulled out salad ingredients and the escarole. To make a very long story short, I was able to save the salad but it didn’t include escarole. I just found the texture too tough to eat raw. So in my refrigerator the escarole sat.

I had been playing around with a few ideas on how to cook the escarole, and I kept coming back to white beans. Wouldn’t you know that when I went to the CSA farm the next week, Rachael Ray‘s recipe for beans and greens (which I could find nowhere in the internet to share with you) was included in the newsletter, and one of the suggested greens was escarole.

After I finished patting myself on the back for thinking like a famous cook, I took a closer look at her recipe. Man, was it boring! I know some flavors are so wonderful that simple recipes are best, yada yada yada, but I knew I could do a little better than onion, garlic, beans, greens and chicken broth.

White Beans and Escarole with Fresh Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (or so) of escarole, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (or so) white wine or chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup (or so) mixed herbs (I used flat leaf parsley, sage, basil and rosemary), chopped
  • 1/2 tomato, finely diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • pecorino romano for sprinkling

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add the escarole and wilt. Add the white beans and white wine and simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs, tomato and lemon juice. Season. Sprinkle with pecorino romano or parmesan cheese just before serving.

We served this dish with some grilled sausage (I think it was the smoked turkey and chicken pesto flavor) and that was dinner, but it could easily be a vegetarian main dish.

I was fraught with indecision, I have to say, about the lemon juice versus a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I suppose you could try either, but I went with the lemon juice and I was very glad that I did. It added just a bit of brightness that I was looking for in the dish, whereas the balsamic would have changed the flavor entirely. Experiment with it and see what you think works best.

Photo Credit: Debbie McDuffee

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