Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Veritable Wonders of Beans and Scarole

A toy war is going on between my kids as I start to write this entry and I get questions why I don't update more often.  I have tons of food pictures in iPhoto all prepped and ready to go on my hard drive and between the daily chores of a housewife and finding the stirrings of my inner, hungry muse, I do not update as much as I would like.  But alas, I am working on amending that.

Sunday was another busy day in our house, church with the kids then the obligatory Clary's lunch with Jessica and her son TJ.  On my way home, I called my parents to see how they were doing.  My parents have gotten on a health kick lately and my mom was searching me for ideas on healthy meals she could make for she and my dad.  I was stuffed from a Spinach Bacon salad I had at Clary's and the thoughts of dinner hadn't crossed my overly full mind.  My mom brought up how we had been eating out frequently lately to which I agreed.  We had been going out to eat a lot as I am often too tired to cook at night.  She proceeded to tell me what she was making for dinner - a roast chicken and a side of escarole or scarole as we call it.  The light bulb went off in my head and scarole was the perfect dinner for us to have after eating like crap the past few days.  There is one thing I know about scarole, and it is perfect for flushing all the bad stuff out of you, literally.

I usually reserve literal toilet humor for my husband and best friend; a food blog is usually not the place to talk about what becomes of food after we are through with it.  But when I think of scarole, I can't help but hear my dear grandmother's voice in my head preaching the colon-cleansing wonders of this dark, leafy green.  This is the same woman who would tell people to "shit in their hat in Macy's window" during loud Sunday dinner conversations so I guess one could say my potty mouth comes, in part, from her.  Later that night, after enjoying my beans and scarole, I decided to google exactly what escarole is and it is a member of the endive/chicory family.  It is also known for it's high fiber content. After reading that, I started laughing saying to myself "My grandmother was right all the times she preached of the benefits of consuming scarole at the dinner table.  It does make you poop."

Scarole was prepared in two ways by my family growing up, either as a main dish with beans in a tomato based sauce or with raisins as a side dish.    I made beans and escarole, utilizing cannelini beans and Tuttorosso tomatoes, which I found at Publix much to my delight. Cans of Tuttorosso tomatoes were a mainstay in my grandmother's kitchen and to be able to incorporate them in a dish that reminds me so much of my grandmother was fitting.  Since I can't find pepper friselles (crisp Italian pepper biscuits that we usually served with this dish), I decided to pair my beans and escarole with a loaf of rustic Tuscan garlic bread I bought at Publix.
Tuscan Garlic Bread served with Herb-Infused Extra Virgin Olive oil

For those of you who haven't been grossed out thanks to my potty talk, here is my recipe for beans and escarole.  It is simple, delicious and your colon will thank you afterwards.

Beans and Scarole
2-3 Heads of Escarole, washed and torn into pieces
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic, to taste, chopped
1 Can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 C of water
2 Cans of Cannellini Beans, rinsed
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
grated cheese such as pecorino romano (optional)

  • In a large skillet heat over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in pan and once hot, add garlic and saute for a minute.  Add escarole and sautee till it starts to wilt. 
  • Once wilted add beans and saute for a minute or two.  Season with s&p if desired.
  • Add the can of crushed tomatoes and water to skillet and season with sugar (I add sugar to my sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes but this is completely up to you), Italian seasoning and s&p.
  • Bring to a simmer and reduce heat.  Cook on low til the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes
  • Serve topped with grated cheese and s&p if desired.  Enjoy!

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