Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Escarole Tart

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalProv Food Expert

Servings: 8-12

Escarole is a type of endive with broad, flat leaves. While the two species may differ slightly in appearance, their nutritional content is the same. Escarole is simple to plant and maintain in a home garden and offers numerous nutritional benefits. The fact that it contains vitamins, minerals and is diet friendly makes escarole a leafy green that you should consider adding to your menu. It resembles radicchio but imparts a less bitter taste. This cool weather vegetable, sometimes called Batavian, can be added to salads when it is picked young. More mature escarole is cooked as a side dish or used to make hearty soups; a popular variety includes escarole and meatballs, popular as an Italian dish. In this application it’s used as a tart suitable for appetizer, snack or a lovely side dish. I decided to omit the lattice work described on the recipe below because I used a much wider pan, but you can put in place your creativity. 

Ingredients

3 large heads escarole, cored and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 anchovies

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins, optional

1 -1/2 pounds Scamorza cheese or fresh mozzarella, diced

Coarse and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

All-purpose flour, for work surface

Basic herbed Pate Brisee dough or store-bought puff pastry

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, cook escarole, covered, over medium heat until wilted, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Place in a sieve set over a medium bowl, and let drain. 

When cool enough to handle, place in a towel, and squeeze to remove excess liquid; set aside.

In the same skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovies, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add reserved escarole, olives, and raisins. Cook, stirring occasionally, until completely combined and no liquid remains in the skillet. 

Adjust flavors with salt and black or red pepper. Spread on a baking sheet to cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll smaller piece of dough into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inches thick. 

With a dry pastry brush, brush off any excess flour. Gently press into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Add filling, and spread evenly. Top with Scamorza or mozzarella.

Optional steps: On a lightly floured surface, and roll out remaining piece of dough to a 1/8-inch-thickness. Cut into strips, 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Weave the strips forming a lattice top over the filling. Press edges to seal. Trim dough flush with the tart pan.

Brush tart evenly with egg. 

Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is heated through, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. 

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Escarole Nutrition info

A 1 1/2-cup portion of raw, chopped escarole contains only 15 calories. Whether you use it as a salad green or a tasty side dish, this vegetable makes an excellent choice to include in your diet when you are trying to drop a few pounds. 

Be sure to develop your meal plan to combine escarole with a healthy grain or starchy vegetable, such as potatoes, and a low-fat protein -- turkey or fish, for instance -- to consume a balanced meal. Escarole has no fat and little protein; a 1 1/2-cup serving provides 1 gram. It does contain 3 grams carbohydrates, however. This amount will not meet your energy needs for the day -- carbs are your body's primary source of fuel -- so be sure to supplement your eating plan with foods that are rich in carbohydrates.

 

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well."  Check out the Chef's website and blog. 

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