Braised Escarole with White Bean Vinaigrette
By guest chef, Cathi DiCocco
A delicious whole foods dinner by restauranteur Cathi Dicocco.
Cathi grew up cooking in her fathers Italian restaurant in upstate NY. She is a hidden gem we found in the Maine woods. If you’re ever in Bethel, Maine, stop and visit Cathi’s restaurant and market
To make the Beans:
1 cup of dry beans
1 sprig of rosemary
1 head of garlic, loose skin removed and cut in half through the middle
Cover dry beans by three inched with cold water and soak in the refrigerator overnight. Drain beans and rinse well. Place the beans in a pot and add 3 cups of cold water. Add the rosemary and the garlic. Bring the beans to a boil for 5 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until the beans are tender. Remove and reserve the garlic halves. Drain the beans, rinse and set aside.
One cup of dry beans will yield 3 cups of cooked.
3 Cups cooked cannellini beans
¼ cup or more hot water
1 half bulb of the prepared garlic (more to taste)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Process or mash 1 1/2 cup of prepared beans with the hot water. Try to get this as smooth as possible. The consistency should be thin but not watery. Take the prepared garlic and gently squeeze out the softened cloves into the bean “juice”. Mash and blend the garlic. Add the lemon juice, chopped rosemary, olive oil and vinegar. Mix well. Add remaining beans, mash slightly retaining a fair amount of bean texture and gently fold ingredients together in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Prepare escarole.
1 large head of Escarole, cut into quarters
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in two quarters of escarole. Reduce the heat to a low boil and cook the escarole for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile preheat a grill to 400 degrees or if you’re grilling the escarole inside preheat a cast iron grill pan for about 5 minutes on high. After 5 minutes lower the preheating grill pan to medium high. The pan should be very hot but not smoking.
While the escarole is cooking and grill preheating fill a large bowl with cold water and 2 cups of ice.
Using large tongs remove the escarole from the pot, place them into a colander and then immediately plunge them into the cold water bath. Alternatively you may rinse the escarole under cold running water. When the escarole has cooled down, about 1 minute, remove the greens and blot very dry in a large clean cotton towel. If preparing the full head of escarole or 4 portions repeat this process.
Brush one side of the escarole with olive oil and place onto the grill or grill pan, oiled side down. Grill for about 3-4 minutes or until grill marks are visible. Brush the top with oil and flip. Once the underside is nicely grilled, remove the escarole and set onto a serving plate.
Stir the white bean dressing and then spoon the beans onto the escarole. Season the escarole with a generous grating of black pepper and additional olive oil if desired. Serve with crusty garlic bread.