Well, I bought the most beautiful head of escarole at Holbrook Farm last week. It was so green and full, I just had to get it.
If you are not familiar with escarole it's considered a bitter green. The younger and more tender the leaves, the less bitter the taste. However, for many, bitter greens, especially in their raw form, are an acquired taste. Over the years I've actually become fond of using bitter greens in various salads.
Until now I'd never made a salad with escarole as the base, but I figured if it was paired with the right ingredients it could work. To play off of the bitter flavor, I went with chipotle thick-cut bacon, goat cheese, fried onions, cannellini beans and a lemon vinaigrette.
I wanted a full flavor experience: bitter, salty, tangy, earthy, creamy and sweet. This salad may not be for everyone, but it certainly worked for my taste. Full of flavor.
Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a meal
- 1 head of escarole, finely shredded
- 1 strip thick-cut chipotle bacon, chopped (Mountain Products Smokehouse)
- 1/2 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 cups cooked cannellini beans
- 4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Divide escarole among plates.
- Cook chopped bacon in frying pan over medium heat until crisp.
- Transfer cooked bacon bits to paper towel to drain. Set aside.
- Reserve bacon fat in pan.
- Place pan back on the heat and add the chopped onion.
- If there isn't enough fat left in the pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Fry onions until lightly crisp and browned.
- In a medium bowl add the cooked onion and any remaining fat in the pan.
- Stir in the cooked bacon and cooked cannellini beans. Mix well to combine. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the bacon mixture over the shredded escarole, dividing it evenly among the plates.
- Drizzle on the vinaigrette.
- Sprinkle each serving with goat cheese and serve.
How do you enjoy your dark, leafy greens?
Photos by Renato Ghio