Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Escarole Tart
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalProv Food Expert
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.
3 large heads escarole, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
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
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.
Breakfast in a Jar, Bistro 22, Cranston
The relatively new Bistro 22 is part of the re-birth going on in Garden City, in Cranston. Many new shops and restaurants have opened in the last year and this may be the best of the lot. Bistro 22 is an American style bistro featuring local ingredients and creative dishes. It is the perfect stop to re-fuel while shopping or it is worth its own trip. The dish we chose has become a staple of our visits: Breakfast in a Jar. Slowly braised beef short rib is served along with diced potato, bacon, a poached egg and a little truffle juice. The whole thing is served in a small jar and accompanied by buttery, thick cut toast. Combine all the ingredients on the toast and it is a pretty perfect bite. 22 Midway Rd. 383-6400
Boeuf Bourguignon, Pot au Feu, Providence
If you are looking for the latest fad or newest dish in town, Pot au Feu is not the place for you. Owner Bob Burke likes to say that if a recipe isn't 300 years old, they're not interested. There is no more representative dish of French cuisine than Beef Bourguignon. A humble cut of beef is seasoned and slowly braised until tender and flavorful. The Pot's version features large chunks of beef braised with red wine and herbs until tender. It is served with their potato gratin and all that delicious broth makes for perfect French bread dipping. And hey...it was Julia Child's favorite! 44 Custom House St. 273-8953
French Onion Soup, Chez Pascal, Providence
There is something comfortable about a perfect bowl of soup. On a chilly afternoon or evening, it can be the perfect partner to a good read or your favorite TV show. On cool, October nights, we like to head over to Hope Street, in Providence, and check out the perfect French onion soup at Chez Pascal. This bistro classic features slowly braised onions with beef and chicken broth, sherry, a French bread crouton and melted cheese. It is baked in the oven and is served bubbly and melty and satisfying. Chez Pascal uses Gruyere as their cheese of choice...and we totally agree! This cheese has the perfect combination of flavor and melt. 960 Hope St. 421-4422
Cottage Pie, Buskers, Newport
Don't let the name fool you...this is a delicious Shepherd's Pie. Buskers is that perfect Irish pub you've been searching for and more. A "Busker" is a street musician or performer and we would happily sing for this supper! This is comfort on a plate: ground beef is combined with medley of vegetables including carrots and corn and peas and topped with their delicious house mashed potatoes and gravy. It is all baked until the top is crisp and brown. These flavors are classic and comforting and executed very well here. It will take the chill out of your bones for sure. 178 Thames St. 846-5856
Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese, Siena, Smithfield
As much as the Cottage Pie spoke to the Irish in us, the Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese speaks to the Italian in us. Too often Bolognese has been reduced to a homogeneous dish that falls short of what the creators intended. Not so at Siena. This is everything Bolognese should be. The Tarro brothers, long ago, brought their delicious interpretation of Tuscan food home to Rhode Island and this was the dish that hooked us. Sirloin steak, pork and pancetta are all cooked together in a tasty tomato sauce until the truly become part of the sauce. It is then tossed with tagliatelle pasta and topped with the classic Parmigiano Reggiano. Mangia! 400 Putnam Pike, 349-4111