In this simple preparation of sautéed escarole and radicchio, raisins and bread crumbs mellow the flavor of this pleasantly bitter leafy duo. Both well-loved vegetables in Italian cuisine, they add up to a lovely side dish for pastas and other Mediterranean specialties.
Escarole and radicchio both belong to the family of chicory vegetables, each of which offers the palate a hint of bitterness, and also includes Belgian endive, curly endive, and frisée. Learn more in our Guide to Chicory Vegetables.
About escarole: Escarole looks like thick, sturdy romaine lettuce with curled, ragged edges. It has a chewy texture and refreshing, mild bitterness. The paler inner leaves are more tender and less bitter. Its flavor mellows considerably with sautéing, cooking, and braising. It cooks down quickly in the skillet, and is downright delightful in soups.
About radicchio: There are several varieties of this colorful chicory family, including the most common, Chiogga, whose small, wine-red leaves have white streaks. It has a bracing bitterness and pleasant crunch. Bite-sized pieces are often found in packaged mixed salad greens.
Lightly sautéing or stir-frying radicchio mellows its bitterness a bit but it’s always a nice contrast to sweeter vegetables, used raw or cooked.
Swap-in greens: Though I recommend keeping the radicchio for its distinctive color, you can use mustard green or chard in place of the escarole.
What to serve with Sautéed Escarole and Radicchio
As mentioned earlier, this is a fantastic side dish with pastas and other Italian and Mediterranean specialties. Try serving it with any of the following, or any of your favorite pasta dishes. It’s great with polenta, too!
- Vegan Pasta and Eggplant Casserole
- Vegan Pasta Arrabbiata
- Vegan Polenta with Mushrooms and Chickpeas
Ingredients you’ll need
- Whole-grain bread (2 average-size slices)
- Escarole (1/2 medium head)
- Radicchio (1 head)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Garlic, fresh
- Parsley, fresh
- Basil leaves, fresh (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Recipe adapted from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
Explore more …
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- 2 average-size slices whole-grain bread
- 1/2 medium head escarole or mustard greens
- 1 head radicchio
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup sliced fresh basil leaves, optional
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Toast the bread until it’s golden brown. Tear into several pieces and place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until the bread is becomes coarse crumbs. Set them aside until needed.
- Cut the greens and radicchio crosswise into long ribbons. Place them in a colander and rinse well.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté over low heat until golden. Add the greens and radicchio. Sauté over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until both are tender but still brightly colored.
- Stir in the raisins, parsley, and optional basil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and serve at once, straight from the pan.
Swap in: You can substitute the equivalent amount of mustard greens or chard for the escarole in this recipe.
See lots more plant-forward salads & sides.