Escarole, a leafy green vegetable in the chicory family, is packed full of flavor, vitamins and minerals and flavonoids, the consumption of which may help prevent cancer.
This week’s recipe for Italian White Beans and Escarole brings big flavor from a small list of ingredients. It was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She began sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes and testing of new recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has since become a company tradition.
“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”
– Craig Claiborn
Italian White Beans and Escarole
Cooking for Jeffrey, Ina Garten 
- 2 (15.5 oz) cans white cannellini beans (Ina prefers Goya brand; the America’s Test Kitchen’s winner is also Goya, with Bush’s Best coming in second)
- ½ cup good olive oil
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1½ cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (more can be added to the finished dish to make it more like a soup)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large head escarole (1¼–1½ lbs), leaves separated, trimmed, washed, and spun dry. Escarole (aka broad-leaved endive, Bavarian endive, Batavian endive) is a member of the chicory family, along with radicchio, Belgian endive, and frisée. It has broad, curly green leaves and a slightly bitter flavor.
- 1 cup freshly grated Italian Pecorino cheese (pecorino is a category of hard, salty Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. Types include pecorino Romano, pecorino Toscano, pecorino Siciliano, and pecorino Sardo, named after the regions in which they are made)
- ½ cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese (Parmesan is a hard, grainy Italian cheese with a nutty flavor, made from cow’s milk. Parmesano Reggiano is a protected designation for Parmesan cheese produced in the Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Mantua, Modena, or Parma regions)
- Drain the beans, rinse with water, and drain again. In a large pot or Dutch oven (e.g., Le Creuset), heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute, until it is fragrant but not browned. Add the chicken stock, drained beans, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. With a potato masher, mash half of the beans in the pot, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, stack the escarole leaves on top of each other and cut them crosswise into 3-inch-wide strips. Add the greens to the pot, cover, and steam over medium heat for 3–5 minutes, until tender, stirring the greens into the beans about halfway through. Turn off the heat, stir in the cheeses, taste for seasoning, and serve warm.
The combination of these few ingredients results in a huge amount of flavor—savoriness and bite from the garlic, richness from the olive oil, heat from the pepper flakes, creaminess from the beans, slight bitterness from the escarole, tanginess from the cheeses, and meatiness from the chicken stock.