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Escarole

Sep 19, 2018

Widely used in Italian-American foods, this lettuce variety dates to ancient Roman times.

Appearance & Flavor 
Escarole leaves are crunchy, crisp, and wide with a slight curl. The outer leaves are dark green, but the closer to the center you get, the lighter green they become. They taste bitter and have a nutty undertone. The darker the leaf, the more bitter the flavor. Make sure to choose one with a firm head and tight leaves-with no discoloration or mushy feeling.

Ways to Enjoy 
You'll feel like quite the chef as you bring out the nutty undertones of the escarole with this recipe. If you want to go the path of less effort, it works well raw in salads,  sandwiches, and lettuce wraps. However, cooking escarole can reduce its bitterness. Try adding it to stir fries, soups, and stews, or on its own braised or sautéed.

Availability & Origin
Though the peak seasons are spring and summer, you can still get escarole all year long. They were native to the East Indies, but now 90 percent of the Unites States' supply is grown in Salinas, California from March to November and then in Yuma, Arizona from November to March.

Storage 
For a whole head, do not rinse it, but wrap it in paper towels and store in an unsealed bag in the crisper drawer for up to four days. Uncooked and unwashed leaves can be stored in a perforated bag in the crisper for about three days. After being cooked, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge to get two days tops out of them.

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