Things are finally starting to green up in Wisconsin, thanks to the seemingly never ending days of rain we've had the past couple of weeks! The garden is showing signs of new life and I've been able to sneak in a couple of afternoons of raking in between rain showers to uncover some early spring flowers. As I type this post this afternoon, we are having more thunder showers. I won't complain after last year's drought.
In keeping with the 'spring green' mood, we enjoyed a delicious, vegetable preparation for dinner recently - sautéed escarole. I'm sure some of you grew up eating escarole, but I actually ate it for the first time at our last gourmet group gathering. I know, what took so long to discover something so good?
One or two heads of escarole are cut into ribbons then washed and spun dry in a salad spinner. Whole anchovy fillets are mashed into a paste in a hot sauté pan with oil along with sliced garlic. The escarole is then added to the pan and cooked until slightly wilted. A sprinkle of S&P, hot pepper flakes and a splash of fresh lemon juice and you have a delicious side dish to accompany almost any meal! Don't worry, you won't even taste the anchovies - they simply add a wonderful depth of flavor.
Sautéed Escarole with Garlic and Anchovies
Adapted from Molto Italiano by Mario Batali
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 heads escarole cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons, washed and spun dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat a 10 to 12 inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and anchovies and mash the anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook just until the garlic is light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the escarole and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon juice over, and serve.
Notes: Buy unsalted anchovies if you can find them. If using salted anchovies, skip the addition of extra salt. You can also make this ahead (slightly undercooked) and serve at room temperature.