Monday, July 6, 2009

Escarole and White Beans: It's Leafy Keen, Jellybean

Lettuce talk leafy greens. (Ho ho.)

We’re gigantic kale and spinach fans here at CHG headquarters, and chard, romaine, and mustard greens have been known to make semi-frequent appearances. I’m just beginning to experiment with arugula, bok choy, and collards, and am working my way up to endive and watercress. Heck, Leigh even has a recipe for stinging nettles, for which I simultaneously applaud her and weep for her hands.

Today, however, it’s all about escarole. Wonderfully affordable and high in fiber, it’s one of those greens generally used to round out a soup, or sautéed on it’s own with a little garlic. It even spawned its own saying that I just made up: “Let the good times escarole!” (What? Sorry.)

Escarole’s only major drawback is that of all leafy greens: they are as gigantic as they are inexpensive. A bunch takes up half my grocery basket, and I can barely stuff it in my crisper drawer without smushing the half-eaten tomatoes and partially-rotting thyme that currently make their homes there. Sometimes, when I open the fridge, it leaps out to attack me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been mugged by a vegetable, but it’s … well, probably much nicer than an actual mugging, come to think of it. So, never mind.

Anyway, all this is leading up to All Recipes’ Escarole with White Beans. Most of the time I see this combination in a soup, but this is sans-broth and about as tasty. It’s primarily beans, greens, and garlic…eens (er, to continue with the rhyme there), with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes thrown in for good measure. We ate it with a whole-wheat baguette and some of Mark Bittman’s Squid in Red Wine Sauce, and it was excellent for an unusually cool summer evening. Mark my words, we will be having it again, perhaps with chard or sorrel or some other crazy leafy thing.

If you should make Escarole with White Beans yourself, there are but two things to know:

  • The original recipe asked for parsley, which I left out because I didn’t have on hand. Honestly, it was fine, and I’m not sure I would have tasted it in the dish.
  • It will create a party in your mouth, so you better make sure everyone’s invited.
And with that, I’m off to tame some greens. Those suckers are tough, man.

P.S. If you guys have any solid/healthy/cheap leafy green recipes, I’d love to hear ‘em. I think I’m going to do a recipe compilation sometime soon, and any ideas are most welcome.

Escarole and White Beans
Makes 3 or 4 side servings
Adapted from All Recipes.

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 large head escarole
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, undrained

1) In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add escarole. Stir to coat. Add salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Saute until wilted, 10 minutes.

2) To another, smaller skillet, add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Add beans (undrained, so with juices). Cook around 10 minutes, until beans are kinda creamy. Pour into escarole mixture. Cook another 10 minutes, or until the dish reaches your preferred consistency, stirring occasionally. Serve, yo.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
3 servings: 206 calories, 6.3 g fat, $0.71
4 servings: 154 calories, 4.7 g fat, $0.54

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided: 158 calories, 17.9 g fat, $0.17
1 large head escarole: 95 calories, 1 g fat, $0.99
salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 clove garlic, minced: 4 calories, 0 g fat, $0.04
1 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, undrained: 360 calories, 0 g fat, $0.89
TOTAL: 617 calories, 18.9 g fat, $2.14
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 206 calories, 6.3 g fat, $0.71
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 154 calories, 4.7 g fat, $0.54

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