Ever since I was a child I've liked gardening. My grandparents grew all the typical Italian garden fare from figs to fennel.
The garden I grow today, is a little different than the one my grandparents cultivated. I grow heirlooms like Brandywine and Green Zebra, while my grandparents grew Roma's and Super Steaks; I grow baby arugula and microgreens, and they grow green leaf, and more bitter greens like dandeline and escarole.
So, on my last visit to my grandparents garden, I cut a large quantity of escarole from their garden and brought it home. My Polish husband was unable to tolerate the bitterness of the escarole as salad, so I sauteed it with some garlic, rosemary and red beans instead. It was old school, but new school, and fantastic all at the same time.
Here's a great recipe for escarole and beans:
Dark leafy tops of two bunches of escarole (washed and trimmed)
1 can kidney beans rinsed
4 cloves of garlic smashed
1 tsp coarse sea salt – preferably Sicilian
3 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook on med/low until just lightly browned. Add the wet escarole tops and stir well, turning over the leaves until they are bright green and starting to wilt.
Add the rinsed beans to the greens and sprinkle with pepper flakes. Add fresh rosemary sprig. Stir again well. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all flavors blend. Remove from heat and remove rosemary. Spoon greens and beans into a soup bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a little more sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and lemon juice.