Since this is the fourth week that we have been harvesting the endive/escarole mesclun, I thought it was high time that I shared a couple of recipes and a little more information about this vegetable.
Endive and escarole are both in the chicory family (think radicchio, etc). You may have seen the little heads of blanched Belgian endive at the grocery store. Both endive and escarole have the ability to form heads, although depending on the variety the heads may be more like you would expect of a leaf lettuce or a Bibb lettuce than a cabbage or radicchio.
The mesclun mix is designed to be harvested as small leaf salad greens rather than grown for full-sized heads. The catch is that the leaves are a little more on the bitter side than lettuce, which most of us prefer to be on the sweeter side. While there is a bitter tinge to the leaves, I don’t find it to be the same unpleasant bitterness that lettuce can develop as it gets older.
One thing I found as I was looking for recipes is that it is a little tricky to find recipes that use the leaves rather than the Belgian endive heads or another head-type chicory. I did find a really simple Endive & Apple salad that I liked and a couple other recipes that looked tempting.
I know, I said apples, but I made it with strawberries & walnuts the first time because that’s what I had. The dressing was just a very simple oil, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings for a viniagrette. It was good! The flavor of the greens did make it a little more robust than just a lettuce salad.
Other recipes I found that I thought sounded good:
I also wanted to try a recipe with cooked greens. This was a very simple Escarole & Beans recipe. It was very simple – cook the escarole in oil and seasonings, simmer the beans, the mix together and simmer. It was okay, but I didn’t love it. There are some more complex recipes that would probably be better, but as a quick, simple dish, this is a good place to start.
It certainly looks exotic, doesn’t it? Again, a very simple recipe if you have the spices. Unfortunately, the recipe called for a LOT of spices to the point where it was gritty with spices. It was inedible. Really really inedible.
I wished that I had decided to tweak this recipe for Chickpeas with Yogurt and Fresh Mustard Greens instead. It calls for some exotic ingredients, so I wanted to avoid it, but I guess I should have tried it anyway. One of the exotics is Curry Leaves, which we are growing in the garden this year! I’m excited! But it’s not big enough to harvest yet. It also calls for asafetida – another common spice in India, but rarely seen here. It would probably be safe to just leave it out.
There will probably be plenty of opportunity to try the recipe yet this year, because the mustard greens are growing like crazy.
We are almost at the end of October! I think that next Friday (November 1st) I will do a long post showing the “Whole Garden” pictures from May through October. I think it will be pretty neat to see the garden change over the whole season, because sometimes the difference isn’t very noticeable from week to week.
Speaking of digging sweet potatoes – here is the dig in progress. It’s a little bit different than using the tractor and harvest machine down at the Pair Center! It looks like we managed to grow some nice sweet potatoes.
The sweet potato harvest looks good, although not particularly spectacular. I am wondering if we should have planted more slips, if we needed to fertilize/water more, or if this is actually a reasonable harvest from a 16 sq. ft. area? Now that I think about it, it may very well be reasonable.
This was supposed to be part of the fall salad greens planting, and while I suppose you could still use them for a salad, they are much more the size of braising or cooking greens now. The colors were pretty this morning in the sun.
Speaking of greens, the spinach plant that survived from the first planting has some huge leaves! They are pretty pointy, which I’m not usually a fan of (sign of bolting), but the flavor was very sweet and good on this leaf. Yes, I picked it, took a picture, and then ate it.
Have a great weekend!