Escarole Salad with Pecorino, Lemon, and Mint

Escarole Salad with Pecorino, Lemon, and Mint

I don’t know about you, but when I think “salad,” escarole isn’t usually the first green to pop into my mind. Or even the second. To me, escarole is a cold-weather vegetable, one to braise lovingly alongside white beans or add to farro-and-white-bean soup, maybe mix into a frittata with sautéed mushrooms and zucchini. But raw, in a salad? That just seems weird.

And then. And then, my friends, I went out to dinner with a friend. She suggested Almond, a French-ish, Italian-ish restaurant near Madison Square Park. Here, over a glass (or three) of smooth red wine, my eyes were opened. They offered a Salad of Escarole & Mint, with pistachio citronette and shaved Pecorino Toscano. I had to have it.

It was about as close to a life-changing salad as I’ve ever eaten. Turns out that escarole, chopped into bite-size pieces, has a wonderful, firm body and just a hint of bite. Add in nearly-sweet toasted pistachios, a lemony dressing, and practically sinful amounts of creamy-salty cheese, and you’ve made a fan for life. When I got home that night I was pretty looped, but not so drunk that I couldn’t rave about it to Stephen. And when I saw escarole at the farmer’s market, I knew that salad would be mine.

I’ve toned it down a bit for Weight Watchers reasons—if you’re not watching your diet, double the pistachios, the cheese, and the oil in the dressing.

Escarole Salad with Pecorino, Lemon, and Mint
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer
Weight Watchers: 7 points as a main, 3 points as an app

1 medium head of escarole, chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 ounce unsalted pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 ounces Pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (the restaurant used Toscano, but I used Romano)
1 tablespoon best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
Salt & pepper

Put the escarole and mint into a large salad bowl. Top with the pistachios and shaved cheese.

Put the oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper into a small air-tight container. Shake well and pour over the salad. Toss well and serve.