The first escarole of the season made it’s way to the CSA Shares this week, and this dish is the perfect way to enjoy it! Escarole is a bitter green in the chicory family, it looks very similar to lettuce but has a very different flavor. Escarole is slightly bitter when raw, it is good in salads like our Beet and Escarole Salad with Goat Cheese & Walnuts, and also very good when lightly cooked.
Here is escarole is paired with dry aged sausage, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes. They’re a perfect balance to the bitterness. I was really happy to find an organic calabrese sausage at Wegman’s, you can also use sopressata. It’s really easy to make your own breadcrumbs – I had these in the freezer and if you can’t eat wheat you can easily make your own gluten free breadcrumbs. Chop and clean the escarole, then assemble the ingredients. Start by sautéing the diced sausage in olive oil, then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer briefly.
While the escarole is simmering toast the breadcrumbs in olive oil, remove from pan and mix in the parmesan. Transfer the escarole to a serving dish and top with breadcrumbs and cheese.
Spicy Escarole with Sausage
1 head of escarole, washed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 dry aged sausage (7-8 oz) like calebrese or soppressata diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko*
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
salt + pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté crushed red pepper, garlic and sausage until sausage garlic starts to crisp. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add escarole to the pot, lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until escarole is lightly cooked. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
While the escarole is cooking. Toast the breadcrumbs in one tablespoon olive oil. Remove from heat and mix in cheese. Sprinkle over escarole and serve.