Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Escarole (Scarola) and Beans

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This dish and the video and pictures were made and taken back in September, 2012.  I had hurt myself at the time and I mention the injury in the video.  We also had a close family member who had been very ill and then passed away.  We had a lot of people coming and going and some staying from out of town.  I did a lot of cooking and brought food to the family.  I cooked in large quantities so that there would be enough should people show up unexpectedly and/or enough for leftovers for another night,

I linked this recipe to Foodie Friends Friday Linky Part, Whipperberry and One Creative Mommy.  Click on the links to check them out!

Sometimes it's a good idea to cook in advance.  Soups and anything in a sauce always taste better if they sit overnight.  Dishes such as baked ziti, lasagna, chili, stew, meatloaf, and soups when left to sit overnight soaks up the flavor.  Most Italians I know will make these dishes the day before they are going to serve them.  My mom almost always does as do I, especially for a large gathering.  For some theories as to why some dishes taste better if made in advance click hereherehere and here.

If you are going to have a houseful, especially at an emotional and busy time, cook in advance.  Choose a dish or dishes that can be made in advance, the day before, so that the day of the event, you aren't spending all your time in the kitchen, especially when people are coming and going all day long and/or staying with you.  Isn't it better to be able to get up in the morning and enjoy the day with your houseguest(s) knowing dinner was taken care of before they arrived and it will taste better to boot?  It's a win/win situation!  Try it, you will love it.  Professional caterers often cook dishes the day before a large event.

I grew up on various Escarole (Scarola) dishes.  Escarole is Scarola in Italian and I grew up hearing my grandmothers and mother refer to it as such, my mom still says it that way. 

scharol’/scarol – escarole/money (scarola) [shkaa-ROAL]

Escarole (Scarola) Dish

2 large heads of Escarole
2 large cloves of garlic
1 large Spanish onion (use about 3/4)
2 stalks of celery
2 cans Cannellini beans
chicken with skin
sweet skinny Italian sausage
1 pound small pasta (I substitute with brown rice)
black pepper if desired (I don't use it as I don't like it)

Fill large pot about half full with cold water.  Add chicken.  Bring to boil, lower and simmer, covered.  Always keep pot covered - you don't want your liquid to evaporate.

Coat frying pan with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.  Add chopped onion and chopped garlic together and cook in pan until sightly tender.  Add to pot with chicken. Add chopped celery to pot.  Salt to taste.

Clean escarole as shown in video.

Fry sausage (poke holes in casing) until brown.  Cut into bite sized pieces and add to pot.

When chicken is tender (falling off bone) remove from pot and then add small pieces back into pot (be careful not to add small bones)

Chop escarole into small pieces and add to pot. Let cook until tender, stir often and remember to keep covered.

Boil pasta or rice.

Add pasta or rice and beans (do not drain beans) to pot, stir and let simmer just long enough to allow beans to get hot.

Be careful not to overcook as you will have a big pot of mush and paste.  You don't want that.

Serve and enjoy. This particular dish is delicious when you first make it but even more delicious the next day.  It's a great dish to make ahead of time.  It also freezes well.

dry peas and beans in my pantry

If you prefer to use dry beans, soak, clean and prepare them in advance, preferably the night before.  I use dry sometimes, I often make pea soup or lentils with dry, but today I was in a rush so I used canned.

It is a bit time consuming.  From prep to finish I would allow two hours, though you don't have to be in the kitchen the entire time.  While different foods are cooking in the pot I am doing other things. Just be sure to stir.

Below are some pictures of the process.

getting started - adding chicken to cold water
chopped onion and garlic

chopped celery

chicken stock

you can see the sand in the sink after first rinsing, always rinse at least twice

Escarole draining

large bowl of Escarole - it will cook down

keep pot covered - Escarole cooking down

beans for dish, you can use dry if you prefer

the finished product - in bowl ready to serve

leftovers in the fridge - mmmmmmmm, the dish will taste better tomorrow than it did today! 

Below is some information on a dish I mention in the video.

Manest - click here to go to recipe site

Manest photo

An Easter Tradition This recipe is made for a large crowd. If you are expecting less people, cut the recipe in half. Serve family style with lots of Italian bread.


  • 3 racks of babyback ribs
  • (cut up leaving 2 ribs in between cuts)
  • 6 pepperoni cut in thirds
  • 2-3 heads cabbage
  • 4 heads escarole
  • 1 tbsp fennel
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Very large pot


  • Wash all vegetables, core and cut cabbage in quarters.
  • Cut top of escarole and wash leaves to make sure sand is removed.
  • Boil pepperoni and ribs separately. Boil each for 15 minutes.
  • Once ribs are cooked, drain and rinse. Do same to pepperoni.
  • While meat is boiling add lard, fennel and garlic - mix together and place in the center of a piece of cheese cloth. Place the 3 bay leaves on top, pick up the ends of the cheese cloth and tie with string, making a pouch. Leave the string long enough to tie to handle of the pot.
  • Secure pouch to the pot, make sure it goes to the bottom so it sits in the water.
  • In same large pot, put cabbage on the bottom, then pepperoni and ribs.
  • Add water to cover cabbage.
  • Top with escarole and cover.
  • Once water comes to a boil, lower flame to medium and let simmer.
  • Cook until cabbage is soft (check by inserting fork).
Here is another version of Manest.  The stories are a bit different, some say it's an Easter tradition, some call it something different.  I was always told it was called Manest and that it means mess, though it may have been a slang term and/or it may have been a Sicilian term (my family is Sicilian, which differs from other areas in Italy).  The language and words differ and sometimes they do not understand one another easily, similar to how someone from New York may not understand someone from Georgia and vice versa; different terminology, traditions, etc.  You can't bulk all Italian together, it's different in different areas, just like here in the States.

It could be spelled menest and I've found other variations.  I honestly do not know which is correct, I've never seen it spelled out, I've only heard it pronounced.  It's times like this that I really miss my Grandmother.  I wish I could call her and ask.  I miss her all the time, but sometimes, more than others.

This woman could make a cardboard box taste good. She was a fabulous cook. I miss cooking with her.
She was also a wonderful singer and dancer, had the most awesome outgoing, fun personality,
and loved to laugh and have fun!  I miss her desperately.  I can't believe it is almost 20 years that she's gone.
I am so thankful I got to know all four of my grandparents, they were a huge influence and
I feel privileged to have known them and shared history with them.  The memories we made will last a lifetime.  I will never forget. 
If you have any questions, want tips or would just like to chat, feel free to email me at!


  1. Thank you for sharing your recipe on Foodie Friends Friday Linky party. This looks delicious! Please come back today to vote for your favorite recipes!

    Kelly {Adorned Well}
    One of the co-hosts of Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party

  2. This sounds good. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday and hope you will join us again this coming week.


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