Never did I think that words like limp and wilted would describe something so utterly delightful. These adjectives call to mind a soggy salad, vegetables left too long in the refrigerator, or even overcooked spaghetti noodles. But they also describe, quite aptly I might say, a simple, unadorned celebration of a new way to prepare a rather standard green vegetable. And with that glowing introduction, I give you, Grilled Escarole.
March is the most difficult month for me. Yes it is the beginning of spring, the start of a season filled with juicy berries, fuzzy stone fruit, and multitudes of light lettuces. But spring is just spring by the calendar year. Even in California, a place that is teeming with produce, the bounty doesn’t really start to get going until mid-April. And so I struggle with March. Cabbage, potatoes, broccoli, oranges, and mandarins just aren’t doing it for me anymore, I need something more from the green grocer’s, so I begin to scavenge.
And when I scavenge, there are times when great things happen. I trudge home from the market, pulling out the lonely head of escarole from my shopping bag, because at the grocer’s it was something new, something hearty. I still am unsure exactly how I will prepare it. I taste it raw, ever so slightly bitter, I chew and chew the toothsome leaf. Deciding it must be cooked, I quickly peruse my mental log: saute, simmer, stir-fry…too drab. How about grilling?
I take out my grill pan, setting it on the stovetop to preheat while I prepare the escarole. The preparation couldn’t be simpler. Simply wash the entire head, then slice the escarole into quarters through the root. Brush the quarters with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then set in piping hot grill pan. Grilling for 2-3 minutes a side, the escarole gets pleasantly charred, and ravishingly wilted (ravishing? yes, ravishing).
Squeezed with lemon, and served with grilled sausage, and roasted new potatoes, this grilled escarole made me even enjoy the same-old potatoes once again.