Every time I find myself in possession of a head or two of young escarole, my head and my heart sing, “Salad!” Darker, more mature escarole is great for sautés and soups and the like, but pale green tender escarole leaves are a gift and must be highlighted in an Italian-inspired salad.
This one has a zingy Caesar-like dressing made with Parmesan, anchovies, and Dijon mustard. However, the delicately bitter flavor of the young escarole still shines through. This would be a perfect balance to a rich Italian meal like Classic Beef Lasagna, Cacio e Pepe, or Crispy Baked Eggplant Parmesan. Also, try Frisee, Radicchio, and Escarole Salad.
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Escarole Salad: The delicately bitter flavor of the young escarole is perfectly matched with a zingy Caesar-like dressing.Tweet This
Yes! Escarole can be eaten uncooked like other lettuces. The paler, more tender leaves are much less bitter than more mature escarole and delicate in flavor. Those are the leaves that are best eaten raw. I think the very best way to serve them is with a robust Caesar-like salad dressing.
Escarole is bitter, though the inner leaves are less so, and therefore best for uncooked preparations like this salad.
Store escarole in the vegetable crisper drawer in a plastic bag for up to 5 days before using. Wash and dry the escarole right before using it so it stays crisp and doesn’t start to spoil. Save any darker outer leaves for other recipes, like sautéed escarole or escarole and spinach soup.
Even though the flavor of the young escarole is much milder than the dark green leaves it still has enough presence that it can stand up to some more intense flavors. This escarole salad dressing contains some richness from the olive oil, some acidity, some saltiness, and some umami flavors, which play beautifully against the mild bitterness of the uncooked escarole.
- Escarole – Use the pale green inner leaves only.
- Anchovy filets – Yes, you could leave these out for a vegetarian dressing, but they have this amazing briny umami flavor, so if you aren’t looking for a vegetarian salad, please leave them in! You could also use a couple of teaspoons of anchovy paste as well.
- Garlic – Finely mince the garlic so it blends nicely into the dressing. Don’t think about using garlic powder here or even pre-chopped jarred garlic — it’s got to be fresh in this instance!
- Dijon mustard – Adds tangy acidity and depth of flavor.
- Lemon juice – Again, ideally, you will use fresh! Adds some vibrant fresh citrusy acidity.
- Olive oil – You have a bottle of good olive oil that you are saving for special occasions, this would be a great moment to break this out!
- Parmesan – Some finely grated Parmesan is included in the dressing, and if you have the ability to use some shaved Parmesan on top of the salad, it will take it to another level! You can buy pre-shaved Parmesan or shave it yourself with a vegetable peeler from a block.
- Salt and pepper to taste – I like a generous amount of freshly ground pepper in this salad, but go easy on the salt if you are using both the anchovies and the Parmesan, which also contain salt.
How to Make Escarole Salad
- Wash and dry the escarole: Tear it into generous bite-size pieces.
- Make the dressing: In a large serving bowl, combine the anchovies, Dijon, lemon juice, finely grated Parmesan, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk or stir to combine well.
- Make the salad: Add the escarole and toss gently to coat. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Top with the Parmesan, if using, and serve immediately.
What to Serve With Escarole Salad
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- 3 heads escarole (pale green inner leaves only (save the larger, darker leaves for sautéing and soups)
- 4 anchovy filets (drained and coarsely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Shaved Parmesan cheese (to serve; optional)
- Wash and dry the escarole. Tear it into generous bite-size pieces
- In a large serving bowl, combine the anchovies, Dijon, lemon juice, finely grated Parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk or stir to combine well. Add the escarole and toss gently to coat. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Top with the Parmesan, if using, and serve immediately.
- Store escarole in the vegetable crisper drawer in a plastic bag for up to 5 days before using.
- Wash and dry the escarole right before using it so it stays crisp and doesn’t start to spoil.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.