Escargot, or snail, is a French specialty made from snails cooked in garlic butter with herbs such as tarragon, parsley, and thyme.
But escarole, or endive, is another kind of edible snail.
It’s a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the chicory family.
Like many vegetables, it can be tough to find at the grocery store.
But if you’re lucky enough to eat escarole regularly, it can provide your body with lots of vitamins and nutrients.
Here’s everything you need to know about this leafy green vegetable.
What is escarole?
Escarole is a member of the chicory family.
It’s related to radicchio and Belgian endive (also known as white endive).
The leaves are sometimes referred to as “French endive” because they resemble the traditional French dish escargot, which is made with snails.
However, escargots aren’t made with endive leaves but rather with garden snails, which have been bred to be easier to harvest.
The leaves of escarole grow in bunches and form a head-like shape.
Each leaf has a long stem attached to it, so you might see them hanging off the top of a bunch like little umbrellas.
The leaves are often dark green and slightly crinkled.
They can range in size from 2 inches wide to 6 inches across.
How to tell what variety of escarole you’ve got
If you have a bunch of escarole, you can usually determine its type by looking at the leaves.
The heads of the various varieties will vary in color, size, and shape.
For instance, there are more mature varieties that are larger and less crisp than younger ones.
In addition, each variety has a specific taste.
You can try eating a few leaves to get a sense of what you’ll encounter when you buy the entire bunch.
If you notice that some of the leaves are bitter, you may want to pass on those particular bunches altogether.
One way to tell whether you have a mature variety is to look closely at the leaves.
If they’re large and wrinkly, then you probably have older leaves.
Younger leaves tend to be smaller and more tightly curled.
How to wash escarole
You should always wash your greens before using them.
This includes any leafy vegetables, including kale, collard greens, chard, and spinach.
In general, you should rinse all types of greens thoroughly under cold running water.
Washing helps remove any dirt or grit that could make you sick.
You can also use a salad spinner to dry out the leaves.
Spin the leaves until they’re completely dry, then pat them dry with paper towels.
If you don’t have a salad spinner, just place the leaves in a colander and run cold water over them until they’re dry.
It’s important to give the greens a thorough rinse after washing them.
Then, cut away the stems and any wilted parts.
After cutting the stems off, make sure to discard the ends of the leaves.
How is escarole prepared?
Escarole is most commonly eaten raw, but it can be sautéed, steamed, boiled, or grilled.
It can also be used in salads or as a side dish.
If you’ve never had escarole before, you might not realize that it has a slightly nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
When it’s cooked, the leaves become tender and almost melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Here are some ways to prepare escarole:
Sauté it in olive oil with garlic, onion, and rosemary until all the water evaporates and the leaves become tender.
Steam it in a covered pot with water and salt.
The stems should be cut off first.
Boil escarole in salted water until tender.
After cooking, drain the escarole and serve hot or cold.
Grill escarole over direct heat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
You can also grill it in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.
Make coleslaw by slicing escarole into thin strips and mixing them with shredded cabbage, grated carrot, celery, and mayonnaise.
Use the same amount of dressing as you would for regular coleslaw.
Make potato salad by cutting the escarole into bite-size pieces and adding them to mashed potatoes along with chopped scallions, mayo, sour cream, and chives.
Or add chopped escarole, onions, and carrots to a traditional potato salad recipe.
The difference between escarole and other endives
There are two types of endives: curly endive (also known as Belgian endive) and straight-leaf endive.
Both have been used since ancient times and were considered a delicacy by the Greeks and Romans.
The word endive comes from the Greek word “endos,” which means “inside”—that’s where the leaves grow.
Curly endive has a thicker stem than straight-leaf endive, making it more like a lettuce than an endive.
Curly endive is also called “chicory.”
Both varieties of endive come in white, light green, dark green, purple, and red forms.
They all taste similar but differ in texture and flavor.
The most popular variety of endive is probably white endive because it’s milder and sweeter than the others.
Other varieties include:
Purple endive is similar to white endive but slightly less sweet.
White endive is milder and sweeter than white endive.
Dark green endive has a stronger, earthier flavor.
Red endive has a milder, sweeter flavor than white endive.
How to choose escarole
Escarole is sold loose and must be washed thoroughly before using.
You should look for firm, tightly packed heads without blemishes.
If you see any signs of mold, don’t buy it.
Escarole is available year-round but is best during the winter months.
How to wash escarole
Wash escarole before use.
Remove the outer leaves until you reach the core, then rinse the rest under cold running water.
Place the escarole in a large bowl of cool water and gently swish the leaves around in the water several times.
Lift out the leaves one at a time, allowing them to drain completely before placing them in a colander.
Rinse again after draining, then pat dry with paper towels.
Where does escarole come from?
Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that comes from the endive family – a group of plants that includes radicchio, Belgian endive, and lettuce.
Endives are all members of the same plant species, but they have different names depending on where they grow.
Escarole is one of the most common endive varieties around.
The leaves look like those of romaine lettuce, but they’re more tender and less fibrous.
They have a slightly peppery flavor, which makes them great for adding zing to dishes.
Escarole has long been used as an ingredient in Italian cuisine.
In fact, it’s called cavalo nero (black horse) in Italy because it looks like a horse’s tail.
This name may explain why it was sometimes referred to as “nettle” greens in English-speaking countries.
In recent years, people have started growing their own escarole, which means that more people will have access to this nutritious vegetable.
You can buy fresh escarole at farmers markets and local supermarkets throughout the year.
Now that you know what escarole is, you should be able to get more creative with your cooking!
Check out our other articles on food, recipes, and cooking guides to learn even more.
Is escarole a nutrient dense food?
The word “nutrient” is short for the Latin root “nutriens,” which means “nourishing.”
So, when we talk about a plant being nutritious, we mean that it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals that help our bodies perform their functions well.
In other words, eating these plants will supply us with all of the essential nutrients we need to stay healthy and function normally.
Nutrients are divided into different categories, including macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and phytonutrients (plant compounds).
The USDA defines nutrient density as “the proportion of a nutrient in a serving size of food compared to the amount needed by the average person to meet daily needs.”
In general, foods that have high nutrient densities include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, fish, poultry, milk, and yogurt.
Foods with lower nutrient densities include red meat, processed meats, refined grains, sugary beverages, and sweets.
Escarole comes out ahead on the nutritional scale.
According to the USDA database, one cup of escarole has more calories, protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, folate, and zinc than most other greens.
One cup of escarole also has more omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than spinach, kale, collards, arugula, lettuce, and mustard greens.
And it even beats broccoli and cabbage because it has twice as much vitamin K and four times as much vitamin A.
So, yes, escarole is a nutrient-dense food.
If you enjoy it, you’ll get plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber from just one small serving.
The potential risks of consuming escarole
Escarole has been found to contain oxalic acid, which is a substance that can block calcium absorption.
This means that if you get too much escarole, you could potentially develop kidney stones, according to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Other studies have shown that eating large amounts of escarole may increase the risk of developing kidney disease, but more research needs to be done before we can draw any definitive conclusions.
However, there are other health benefits associated with eating escarole.
For example, a study conducted in 2005 showed that people who ate twice a week had lower cholesterol levels compared to those who did not consume escarole.
Escarole is also high in fiber and vitamin K, both of which improve digestive health.
You should definitely try escarole if you want to add more greens to your diet.
Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Asteraceae family
Escarole is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, endives, and Belgian endive.
The word “chicory” comes from the Old French word chiquoire, meaning “snail.”
Like all members of the chicory family, escarole has a bitter taste.
This bitterness comes from oxalate, which gives the leaves their distinctive flavor.
The more mature the plant gets, the stronger the bitterness will be.
It’s important to note that there isn’t just one kind of escarole in the world.
There are two main types of escarole: curly-leafed and frilly-leafed.
Both have the same nutritional content, but they have different flavors.
Curly-leafed escarole tastes like arugula, while frilly-leafed escarole tastes like arugula mixed with romaine lettuce.
Some people say that the curly-leafed variety is better because it tastes fresher than the frilly-leafed variety.
It’s not really a matter of taste. It’s more of a question of whether you like bitter greens.
If you do enjoy bitter greens, then you should definitely try escarole.
It’s delicious when eaten raw and adds a nice crunch to any salad.
You can buy escarole in supermarkets, farmer’s markets, and even specialty food stores.
You may see it labeled as “endive,” “bitter endive,” or “escarole.”
If you don’t have access to fresh escarole, you can find it frozen or canned in most grocery stores.
Just make sure you read the label before buying.
Fresh escarole should be crisp and bright green with no yellowing.
It should smell slightly sweet. When purchasing fresh escarole, look closely at the stems.
They should be thick and sturdy and free of any blemishes.
If you notice any discoloration or brown spots, then don’t use them. Instead, discard them immediately.
To prepare fresh escarole, wash it thoroughly under running water.
Then cut off the stem and remove the outer leaves.
Next, slice the rest of the leaves into thin strips.
To get rid of excess moisture, place the sliced escarole into a colander and leave it over a bowl for a few minutes.
Finally, rinse the escarole under cold water until the water runs clear.
Dry the escarole by patting it with paper towels.
When you’re ready to cook the escarole, put it in a pot with plenty of water.
Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and turn down the heat.
Allow the escarole to simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and let the escarole continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Drain the escarole and serve it hot!
It is also known as endive or broadleaf endive
Endive is a leafy green vegetable that originated in France.
The name “endive” comes from the Latin word endinga meaning “to bind.”
This refers to the way the leaves are bound together by a stem.
Endives are usually between 4-8 inches long, but they can grow to more than 12 inches in length.
They can be light green, dark green, or purple.
The endive plant has four different types of leaves.
The first two leaves are thick and pointed and have a waxy texture.
These leaves resemble radishes.
The third and fourth leaves are thin and resemble lettuce.
The most tender part of the endive plant is the heart.
It tastes like a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.
To prepare escarole, wash it thoroughly to remove any dirt or sand.
Then cut off both ends of the stem and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Place them in a bowl and cover them with water.
Swish them around to remove any remaining sand or dirt.
Drain the leaves in a colander, then rinse them again under running water until all the dirt is removed.
Finally, dry the leaves using paper towels.
Here are some tips on how to cook endive:
Place the endive in a baking dish with one tablespoon of olive oil.
Season the leaves with salt and pepper.
Bake the leaves at 400 degrees F (200 C) for 20 minutes.
You can add a little bit of water to the pan to keep the leaves from burning, but don’t let them get too soggy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
Tear the endive into 1/4 inch wide strips.
Drizzle the strips with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.
Spread the strips out in a single layer in a casserole dish.
Bake the strips for 15 minutes, turning them once halfway through cooking time.
Cut the endive in half lengthwise.
Remove the stems and discard them.
Place the leaves in a skillet over medium heat.
Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
Cook the endive for five minutes, stirring frequently so the leaves don’t stick together.
Season them with salt and pepper.
Continue to cook the leaves for 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
Escarole has a slightly bitter taste and is often used in salads or as a side dish
Escarole has a slightly bitter taste and is often used in salads or as a side dish.
The bitterness comes from the leaves’ high content of oxalic acid, which helps preserve the greens by preventing them from spoiling.
Because of this, most of the leaves get discarded when they’re harvested.
However, you can still use the outermost parts of the stem as well as the base of the head (the heart).
These two parts have less oxalic acid, so they don’t have quite as much of a bitter taste.
In addition, the more mature the plant gets, the more bitter it becomes.
This can make it difficult to find fresh escarole at the grocery store unless you grow your own.
When buying escarole, look for firm, dark-green heads that feel heavy and pliable but not overly wet.
The leaves should be smooth and free of blemishes.
This delicate leafy green is best eaten raw in salads or as part of a main meal.
You can add it to sandwiches, pasta dishes, and rice bowls.
If you’d like to prepare it in other ways, try grilling or roasting it with olive oil and lemon juice.
Alternatively, you could sauté it in olive oil with garlic, basil, and pepper flakes.
The leaves of escarole are large and have a ruffled appearance
The leaves of escarole are large and have a ruffled appearance.
The stems are thick and fleshy, so they taste more like celery than celery root.
When you cut into one, you’ll find that each leaf has a central vein.
There are five veins running through each leaf, but only two of them are used when cooking or eating.
If you see a third vein, that means the leaf is old, and it should be discarded.
The leaves look similar to those of radicchio, which is also in the chicory family.
Radicchio is typically braised and served with pasta or pizza, while escarole is usually eaten raw or lightly steamed.
In fact, escarole is often referred to as “endive,” even though it isn’t related to true endives (which are members of the daisy family).
If you want to add flavor to your escarole by cooking it, try adding it to a soup or stew.
You could also toss it in a salad, but keep in mind that it will turn brown quickly when exposed to air, so choose your greens carefully.
Also, don’t use too much dressing or oil because the fat will make the leaves soggy.
Instead, add a little lemon juice and olive oil to give the dish a nice tanginess.
What are some other recipes that include escarole?
Creamy Potato Soup
Risotto with Escarole
Simple Roasted Vegetable Medley
Spicy Eggplant and Green Beans Stir-Fry
Spring Pea Soup with Fresh Ricotta
Mushroom and Feta Frittata
Escarole and White Bean Soup
To learn more about the foods we eat, follow the links on the next page!
Escarole Salad Recipe
- Honey, whole grain mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil are all combined in a bowl while being whisked. Add the escarole and season with salt and pepper.