Escarole is an excellent addition to various dishes. It is considered a specialty food, generally more expensive than other leafy vegetables. Additionally, it is challenging to find in the United States.
If you come across a recipe that calls for escarole, but you don’t have any, you’ll have to use a substitute in its place. Luckily, there are several alternatives you can use in place of escarole.
Ideal escarole substitutes are iceberg lettuce, spinach, arugula, radicchios, Chinese cabbage, kale, frisée, butterhead lettuce, Swiss chard, endive, mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, and beet greens.
This article discusses the escarole substitutes mentioned above in detail but first, let us look at what escarole is.
What is Escarole?
Escarole is a green, leafy vegetable that belongs to the chicory family. Its appearance is very similar to lettuce with broad pale green leaves. Its texture is rough, but its bottom looks like classic endive.
I would describe the taste of escarole as slightly bitter. The bitter flavor disappears when you cook it, making it more pleasant to eat. In salads, raw escarole is crunchy and crispy.
Preparing escarole is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is give it a quick rinse, and you’re good to go.
Escarole is an excellent addition to green salads, pasta, stews, and soups. You can also sauté or grill escarole. Most people like it because of its nutritional value.
Unfortunately, escarole is challenging to find in the United States. For this reason, you should know the substitutes you can use in its place.
Below are substitutes you can use in recipes that call for escarole.
Iceberg lettuce is a suitable replacement for escarole in green salads. The lettuce is 96% water, so it is perfect for hydration.
I highly recommend this substitute because it has a soft, crisp flavor ideal for salads.
It also goes well with most, if not all, green salad ingredients since it has a mild taste. Compared to other greens, iceberg lettuce has a low fiber content.
Spinach is an adaptable escarole substitute. Although it has a distinct bitter flavor, you can use it in most dishes that call for escarole.
You can cook spinach and serve it as a side dish or add it to stews, casseroles, and soups. You can also add spinach to your salads. Ingredients that pair well with spinach include but are not limited to fish, cottage cheese, butter, and eggs.
Spinach is very nutritious. It contains potassium, iron, vitamin B6, and vitamin K.
Arugula is a good escarole substitute because, like escarole, it has a distinctly bitter flavor. Additionally, it has a peppery taste.
You can add arugula to eggs, pasta, salads, and any other recipe that requires you to use escarole. Arugula also goes well with ingredients like potatoes, walnuts, avocado, lemon, and pears.
This substitute also goes by the names wild rocket, Italian cress, and Mediterranean rocket.
This escarole substitute has red-purple leaves. The leaves have white veins and a distinct, bitter flavor.
Radicchio has a crispy texture. For this reason, it is often used in salads. You can also sauté or grill radicchio or add it to other dishes, including pasta.
Chinese cabbage is popularly used in Asian cuisine. Often, Chinese cabbage is added to noodle dishes, stir fry dishes, salads, and dumplings.
Chinese cabbage has a mild flavor and a crispy texture. When you cook it, it becomes sweeter.
You can use Chinese cabbage in most recipes that call for escarole.
You can use kale to substitute escarole in dishes. Generally, kale is similar to escarole, but its leaves have a tougher texture and are larger.
Several kale varieties are available, but I highly recommend using curly kale to replace escarole in recipes.
Kale has several nutritional benefits and is readily available in local markets and grocery stores.
Frisée is another suitable alternative to escarole. Like escarole, endive, and radicchio, it belongs to the chicory family.
Often, frisée is referred to as curly endive because it has curly, frizzy, and narrow leaves. The leaves are crispy with a slightly bitter flavor.
You can use this substitute in salads with a creamy dressing. You can also add it to sandwiches or serve with blue cheese and roasted walnuts.
Butterhead lettuce is an excellent replacement for escarole. Its leaves are round with a mild buttery flavor that gives you the feeling of melting in your mouth.
This substitute goes well with blue cheese and roasted pork.
You can use butterhead lettuce in your green salads. You can also use it as a wrap for beef, pork, chicken, taco, and burgers.
Another way to use it is in sandwiches. It gives sandwiches a crunchy texture without overpowering other sandwich ingredients.
Also known as chard, silverbeet, or spinach beet, Swiss chard is a tasty replacement for escarole. You will spend more time cooking chard to achieve a soft texture, but the results are worth it.
You can add cooked Swiss chard to pizzas, risotto, or pasta. The greens are pretty versatile, so you can use them in most recipes that require you to use escarole.
I recommend using this substitute as it has excellent nutritional value. It has antioxidant features and may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve bone health.
Suppose you choose to use this substitute, select those whose leaves have vivid, vibrant colors. The leaves may have yellow, purple, or red splashes in the stalks.
Like escarole, endive belongs to the chicory family. It has a mildly bitter, crisp, and fresh flavor, making it a perfect addition to salads.
You can use endive in most recipes requiring you to use escarole. You can sauté, roast, or bake endive.
Mustard greens are an excellent escarole alternative. They have an intense, peppery flavor, making them a great addition to several dishes.
You can easily prepare mustard greens by sautéing, boiling, or frying them. You can eat them raw, add them to dishes like soups, or sauté them with herbs and oil.
Mustard greens are rich in minerals, fiber, and vitamins. Additionally, they have a low calorie content.
Romaine lettuce has long, dark green leaves. Its crisp texture makes it a suitable replacement for escarole in salads. You can also sauté or grill Romaine lettuce.
This substitute is readily available all year round, so you can easily use it to substitute escarole in your recipes.
Additionally, it improves the nutritional value of any dish you add it to.
Beet greens are an excellent replacement for escarole.
Their flavor and texture are very similar to escarole, and they go well with most dishes. They are also very nutritious.
You can use beet greens in most recipes that call for escarole. The results won’t disappoint you.
Escarole may not be a common ingredient in your kitchen.
For this reason, there is a need to know ingredients you can use in its place if you come across a recipe that calls for escarole. The substitutes discussed above are similar to escarole in texture and flavor.
For the best results, pay attention to the cooking technique for each substitute. Prepared well, most of the replacements will not only taste delicious but also give you the much-needed nutrients.