On A Roll With Fresh Escarole

Jillian T. Seals with a head of fresh escarole. Daniel Lane photos

The Kaua’i Farm Connection (formerly known as Kaua’i Farmer’s Co-op), is a beyond-organic, bio-intensive fruit and vegetable distribution network. The year-round community-supported agriculture program provides members with weekly shares of local produce. KFC accepts credit cards and SNAP EBT cards.

What’s growing: Apple bananas, arugula, beets, bunching onions, carrots, choy, collard greens, curly kale, daikon, dandelion greens, edible hibiscus, edible flower mix, fennel, eggplant, escarole, herbs, hot chili pepper mix, lilikoi, Meyer lemons, Okinawan spinach, papaya, purple string beans, purple sugarcane, red-ribbed chicory, squash tendrils, sweet potato greens, Swiss chard.

ESCAROLE

Also known as broad leaf endive, escarole is in the chicory family. Escarole looks like butter head lettuce with pointed edges. The mild tasting inner leaves are almost white, and the dark outside leaves are slightly bitter.

Season: Escarole can be grown year-round on Kaua’i, and takes 60 days from seed to table.

What to look for: Chicory greens resemble dandelion leaves and should be fresh and free of brown streaks or spots. Young, tender leaves are preferred over older, tougher leaves.

Kaua‘i Farm Connection members (front, from left) Cynthia Hannan, Mieko Aoki, Kelly Wassell, Eileen Irvine, Nancy Cohen (back) Chris Koenigsknecht, Kevin Koenigsknecht, Sarah Laine, Jillian Seals and son Azure, Timoteo Hewlen, Elio Bocchio and Lucia Hennely

Storage: Endive and chicory greens placed in plastic bags will store under refrigeration for about 10 days.

Tip: Escarole has a nutty, pleasantly bitter taste that mellows with cooking.

Preparation: A flavorful addition to salads with nuts and croutons, as well as cooked dishes using chickpeas, nuts, raisins, shallots, oranges and avocado. Sautéing it with garlic and hot peppers is good as a side dish or in sandwiches. Escarole can be seared, grilled and braised.

Health benefits: Escarole is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, betacarotene, calcium, folate, fiber and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are unique compounds that provide protection for plants, and in the human body act as antioxidants, which help to prevent chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Kaua‘i Farm Connection has hired help as well as volunteers. Daniel Lane photos

Kaua’i Farm Connection produce can be found at: Farmers Market: Hanalei, Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Grocery: Harvest Market, Papaya’s Natural Foods. Restaurants: 22 North, BarAcuda, Hukilau Lanai, Lilikoi Lunch Wagon, Oasis, The Garden at Common Ground. Food Distributor: Cultivate Kaua’i. CSA Pickup: Kilauea and Kapaa. Call 828-0800.

BRAISED ESCAROLE AND BEANS

Braising tempers the bit-terness and adds an earthy richness. I prefer my beans made from scratch, and I use the cooking liquid to braise the escarole. For ease, I used canned beans and chicken broth in this recipe. If you’d like a recipe for a delicious pot of beans, feel free to email me.

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 pound escarole, chopped
* 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
* 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shredded
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Braised Escarole and Beans

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the escarole and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth and beans. Cover and simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into six bowls, drizzle 1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan over each.

Makes six servings.

 
 
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