This dish has all the familiar comforts of a classic Caesar salad, crunchy croutons, shaved parm, juicy grilled chicken, and a tangy dressing. The only twist is the bed of crisp escarole! We’ve said it many times before, but one of the best ways to use unfamiliar vegetables is to change up a familiar dish. You might just come up with a new favorite.
Escarole comes in big fluffy heads, that look similar to lettuce. One of the ways you can tell the difference is to look closely at the edges, the leaves of escarole are very jagged. It’s a versatile green that can be enjoyed raw, sautéd, in a soup, or grilled. If you’ve never cooked with escarole, just check out our short video for tips! You could even soften up the escarole for this salad by charring it a bit on the grill, like we do for this salad. Either way, the rich Caesar dressing is a perfect compliment to escarole’s slightly bitter flavor.
You can make this dish fairly quickly, and if you want to cut some corners just buy some croutons and use leftover chicken. This is an easy to whip up dressing that you probably already have all of the ingredients for. In an untraditional twist we skipped the anchovy for this and used worcestershire sauce. It gives the dressing that umami flavor. If you want to make a vegetarian version of this salad swap the chicken for tofu or white beans and use tamari in the dressing.
Escarole Caesar Salad (serves 4)
6 cups chopped escarole, rinsed and dried in a salad spinner
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
1/2 cup croutons – recipe here
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce or tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
lots of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated garlic
Grill the chicken: Season the sides of both chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Combine the chicken, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and juice from half a lemon in a shallow dish. Marinate the chicken at least 1 hour and up to overnight, flipping occassionally.
Heat a grill to medium high, then grill the chicken about 5 minutes per side. An instant read thermometer should read 160°F in the thickest part. Let rest for 5 minutes (the temperature will rise to the USDA recommended 165°F). Slice or shred the chicken into bite size pieces.
*You can also sear the chicken on a grill pan and finish at 425°F for about 15 minutes.
Make the dressing: Place all of the ingredients except the cheese in a small bowl or jar and whisk with a fork. Fold in the parmesan and then taste. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. The dressing should be really strong, it will get spread over all of the escarole, so the flavor will be spread out in the salad.
Assemble the salad: Toss the escarole leaves and a few scoops of dressing together. Add more dressing to your desired consistency. If you dump all of the dressing in at once it might be too much. Spread the escarole over a platter or in a bowl, arrange the chicken, parmesan, and croutons over the top and serve.
*Gluten Free Version – make sure worcestershire or tamari is gluten free, use gluten free croutons or make with your favorite gluten free bread