My mother made escarole soup for us when we were kids. If my memory serves me right it was escarole and beans in a chicken soup base. And, she would throw in a small piece of pepperoni to give it some spice. Pretty simple and very delicious.
She didn’t use escarole in any other dishes - just the soup. So, when my sister, niece and I had dinner in a small (very good) Italian restaurant at the Jersey shore and saw roasted escarole on the menu we jumped on it. Mmm, it was so good. The chef baked it in the oven with a bread crumb topping. I think each serving was half a head of escarole. It was delicious.
I tried several times to replicate it and think I’ve finally done it. Here it is just the way I remember it.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head escarole
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper
1/4 cup italian seasoned breadcrumbs (gluten free)
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese (sheep’s milk)
1/4 cup chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 350℉.
Meanwhile, pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet and warm over a medium high heat. Cut the escarole in half or quarters. Gently wash under cool water and then shake out as much of the water as possible. Finish drying by wrapping in a clean dishcloth and patting gently.
Crush the garlic and put into the pan with the olive oil. Stir briefly and add the escarole, cut side down. After about a minute or two, or when the cut side is slightly wilted, turn the escarole over to cook the other side.
While the second side is cooking salt and pepper the top of the escarole and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Turn the heat off. Gently pour the chicken broth (being careful of sputtering) around the outside — not over — the escarole halves.
Put the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the escarole is sufficiently wilted and the breadcrumbs look light brown and crunchy.
If you don’t have seasoned breadcrumbs you can add some dried parsley, oregano, garlic and onion salt, and pepper to plain breadcrumbs.
I’m sure this would be good with other greens, too — romaine, for example.
To make this dairy-free and vegan omit the cheese.
Click to see how I make my gf breadcrumbs.