Wednesday, October 20, 2021

October 21, 2021 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Escarole!


Cooking With This Week's Box

Baby Arugula:

Escarole, Bacon and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Dried Apricots and Pepitas (See Below)
Escarole with Lentils & Sausage (See Below)

Lacinato Kale:

Italian Garlic:

Red Onions:

Mini Sweet Peppers:

Hot Peppers:

Baby White Salad Turnips:

German Butterball Potatoes:

Orange Kuri Squash:

Jester Squash or Starry Night Acorn Squash:

Orange Carrots:

Spicy Blue Cheese Mini Sweet Peppers
photo from
We’re coming up on the end of our Peak Season shares as we near the end of October.  If you are not already signed up for the final four boxes of the season, you still have time to do so!  We have more tasty selections in store for our November and December boxes including sweet potatoes, tat soi, Brussels sprouts, radicchio and kohlrabi!  This week we’re featuring Escarole, one of our bitter greens that holds an important spot in our late season greens lineup.  If you’re not familiar with this green, I encourage you to read more about it in this week’s feature article.  It can be eaten raw or cooked, so I thought I’d include one recipe for each application this week.  This week’s recipes include Escarole, Bacon and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Dried Apricots and Pepitas (See Below) and Escarole with Lentils & Sausage (See Below).  While both recipes include meat, you could easily omit the meat for a vegetarian option or replace the meat with a meatless alternative.

Spiced Kuri Squash Pie, photo from
Next week we’re planning to start washing and packing sweet potatoes, so this week we took advantage of a little extra room in the box to send not one but two varieties of winter squash your way!  Orange Kuri squash is very similar to kabocha squash, so feel free to use it in any recipe calling for kabocha.  I’m really excited to use it to make this Roasted Red Kuri Squash and Coconut Soup and this Spiced Kuri Squash Pie.  Both of these recipes have some simple yet interesting flavor twists that made them stand out to me.

We are also including either Jester squash or Starry Night Acorn squash.  Jester is very similar to delicata squash and while the skin is technically edible, I find it is more thick than delicata squash and I don’t care to eat it.  This feature is also what helps it store better than delicata squash, a trade off I think is well worth it.  Starry Night Acorn squash is a trial variety for us this year.  Of course you can use it in any recipe calling for acorn squash, although I’ll caution you with the fact that typically acorn squash is a pretty bland squash which is why most recipes bathe it in butter and brown sugar!  This variety is supposed to be more sweet and flavorful, so before you add a lot of sweetener, taste it first.  These two varieties of squash are considered to have more lean flesh and are appropriate to substitute for each other in most recipes.

Arugula & Prosciutto Flat Bread Pizzas
photo from
While we’re not finished harvesting greens, we are coming to the end of our baby greens season.  Use this final bag of arugula to make these simple, yet tasty Arugula & Prosciutto Flat Bread Pizzas or Arugula Salad with Pears and Goat Cheese.  In both recipes the fatty ingredients (Prosciutto and goat cheese) are a fantastic complement to the spicy arugula.

As the nights get chilly and we bring another month to a close very soon, we’re reminded that winter will be here before we know it.  If you have more vegetables than you think you can eat this week, consider squirreling away a few things for the winter.  Peppers are easy to freeze, or turn the hot peppers into Salt-Cured Chiles or HVF Fresh Korean Garlic-Chili Sauce.  You’ll be happy to pull these little preserved gems of vegetable goodness out of the freezer this winter!

That’s a wrap for this week.  I hope you enjoy cooking with this week’s vegetable selections and encourage you to share your escarole creations with us in our Facebook Group!  Have a great week!---Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Escarole

By:  Chef Andrea Yoder

Description & Growing Information: Escarole is in a family of vegetables called chicories which also includes radicchio. Escarole has a pretty long growing season and some years it’s hard to get them to full size.  It is a cold-hardy green that is best suited for growing in the fall and is sturdy enough to be able to take some frosty, cold nights.  In fact, we don’t even think about harvesting escarole until it’s had some chilly nights!  The flavor changes dramatically after they’ve had cold treatment.  This green does just fine uncovered when freezing temperatures are in the low 30’s and high 20’s, but it can sustain some damage when we get a hard freeze. So, some years we do cover this plant to protect it from freezing too hard on those really cold nights.  Due to a warm fall this year, our escarole and radicchio crops are coming in a few weeks ahead of schedule.  We’ve been hesitant to start harvesting them because they had not yet had that cold treatment.  Thankfully, we did have several chilly nights last week and when we tasted them earlier this week we were pleasantly surprised by how mild their flavor is with a slight sweetness.

Escarole resembles a head of green leaf lettuce, but it does have some distinct differences.  First of all the leaves are more broad and a bit more thick when compared to leaf lettuce.  The center of a head of escarole and the portion of the leaves near the base are generally blanched to a light yellow or white.  While all the leaves are edible, these light colored center leaves tend to be the most tender and mild flavored.  As such, this is the portion of the plant you may wish to prioritize for eating raw and save the darker outer leaves for cooking.

White Bean & Escarole Pizza
Preparation & Use: Escarole may be eaten raw or cooked.  When eaten raw, the bitterness is going to be more pronounced.  You’ll find that cooking mellows the bitterness and accentuates the sweet qualities.  It’s also important to note that different ingredients help to balance the flavor of escarole, both raw and cooked.  Fatty ingredients such as sausage, prosciutto, bacon, duck, hard cheese, olive oil, olives and nuts such as pine nuts and hazelnuts provide a nice counter balance to the bitterness of escarole.  Acidic ingredients also perform similarly, which is why you’ll often see recipes for escarole that include vinegar or fruit such as apples, citrus, pears, persimmons and pomegranate.  Of course it also makes sense to pair escarole with other fall vegetables such as garlic, onions, beets, potatoes and winter squash.  Escarole is popular in Italian cuisine where it is often used in soups or sautéed and/or braised along with white beans, lentils, pork and garnished with a variety of cheeses.

There’s a classic preparation for escarole that some Italian cooks call Scarola Affogata, which means “smothered escarole.”  In this dish, garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, then chopped escarole, salt and red pepper flakes and seasoning are added to the pan.  The greens are cooked until they are soft and tender.  This is then served as a side dish, or you can use the greens for another purpose, such as on top of a pizza or slathered on a piece of thick, crusty bread.

Storage: Store escarole in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.  When you are ready to use it, separate the leaves from the base and wash well in a sink of cold water.  If you are using the escarole for a raw salad, shake or spin off excess water to dry the leaves.  If you are cooking it or adding it to soup or stew, it’s ok if there is still some water on the leaves.  

Escarole with Lentils and Italian Sausage 

Yield:  4 servings

1 cup dry lentils
3 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 head escarole, stems removed and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  1. Place the lentils in a medium-sized pot.  Pour in the chicken broth and season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Bring the lentils to a boil, cover the pot tightly, and reduce the heat.  Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Drain most of the juices away and reserve the lentils.  Leave just enough juice so the lentils don’t dry out.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.  If using links of sausage, transfer the cooked sausage to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing into disks.  If you are using bulk sausage, just crumble.
  3. Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium heat until they are soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.  Add the cooked lentils, escarole, salt and pepper and cook until the escarole is wilted, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the sausage back to the pan and stir everything until fully incorporated.
  4. Remove from the heat, garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese.  Serve with crusty bread for sopping up the liquid.
Recipe created by Chef Jamie DeMents from Coon Rock Farm (

Escarole, Bacon and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Dried Apricots and Pepitas

photo from
Yield:  4 servings

2-3 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
1 head escarole, roughly chopped
2-3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
½ cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
¼ cup roasted and salted pepitas

1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
2 Tbsp honey
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F.  Toss the squash with the olive oil and season with salt. Roast the squash for 15-18 minutes or until golden browned on the edges and fork tender.  Set aside to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and season to taste with salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the escarole, cooked bacon, apricots and pepitas with the butternut squash.  Just before serving, drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the top and gently toss to coat.  You want just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat all the ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.
Recipe created by Heather Christo and is featured at

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