November Recipe Of the Month – braised escarole with beans

Okay, I’m cheating a bit here, I actually made this dish in October, but enjoyed leftovers into November. I even added a random can of gigante beans at the end since I had still more escarole to use up. Braised escarole with white beans is a classic preparation and while I always have beans (dry and canned) in the pantry, it took me a couple tries to find a good head of escarole without going out of my way. It’s apparently too plebian for Trader Joe’s (who otherwise has a great selection of prepped greens), and McCaffrey’s only had a quite bedraggled head or two, more like a hank of greens, that I couldn’t convince myself to bring home. (If I’d been willing to make special trips, I would have looked in a farm market or Whole Earth Center.)

But then I got a free delivery coupon from FreshDirect (“we want you back”), and, needing some bulky and heavy items I’d been dreading having to carry up my stairs, I decided to order from them. I’d only done that once before, when they first started delivering to our area, and while it worked out okay, I usually just do the shopping myself. This time, however, FreshDirect had escarole and other greens on sale too, so I took a chance and ordered. It was GLORIOUS! As was the head of red Boston lettuce I also ordered; both were from a farm in the tri-state area, and these heads of greens were huge and very fresh.

Also, although I usually like Rancho Gordo’s dry beans, in this case I dug out someone else’s imported French flageolet beans that I needed to use up. After an overnight soak, they still took longer to cook than the more recently harvested/dried ones I get from Rancho Gordo. Some of RG beans are sold at the Whole Earth Center, but if you want more varieties – or any of their other products – they have an online store, too.

I based my dish on a recipe on the Orangette blog, which is really a combination of recipes from Molly StevensAll About Braising and John Thorne’s Pot on the Fire. Steven’s recipe for braising the escarole and Thorne’s method of cooking dry beans combined to give me the delicious results you see below. You’ll find the recipes on the websites, starting with Orangette. Follow – or, more evocatively, meander – your way to this wonderful dish that will sustain you through the cold months.

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