Escarole, a variety of endive lettuce, is a cool season annual green originating in Western Asia. It is grown in Europe and the USA. High in fiber and vitamins A and K, escarole is also referred to as chicory. When buying escarole, look for crisp, deep-green leaves and no discolored marks. Fresh escarole, if kept refrigerated, will be edible for seven to ten days. When preparing escarole, tear the leaves from the stem and wash in cold water to remove sand from the stems. The outer layer of escarole is dark green and, as leaves are removed, you will see lighter shades of green. The darker leaves have a more bitter taste and are good for braising or steaming.
A great side dish to any meal is an escarole sauté: Clean and chop one head of escarole, take 1 tablespoon of oil and heat in a large pan. Add some chopped garlic, toasted pine nuts, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Saute in pan for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste.