Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Escarole & Beans

Thanks to Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann of Finding la Dolce Vita for organizing the Festa Italiana. My entry to this big Italo-pot-luck is Good Friday escarole and beans.

In Chicago, you still see particular observance of older Catholic traditions. Actually, with the major immigrant groups being Irish, Italian, Mexican and Polish, Catholicism is pretty important in Chicago. One such tradition can be seen in the Italian beef and sausage shops that have Friday specials of pepper and egg sandwiches from back in the day when every Friday was meatless. In many Italian restaurants in the winter months you can get schkarol' and bean soup (that's escarole and bean soup pronounced with that faithful Southern Italian accent of so many of my Italian-American friends).

Here is a Good Friday version of the classic Escarole & Beans (normally using chicken stock) here, flavored with a battuto of aromatic vegetables.


The "battuto""
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 rib celery
1 large clove garlic
2 tbsps olive oil

1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
1 parmesan cheese rind
1 large bay leaves
1 large head of escarole, roughly chopped
1 cup pureed tomatoes
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1-1/2 tsps dried and crumbled
1/2 tsp thyme or oregano
salt and pepper to taste
lots of freshly grated paremsan to sprinkle over

Place the "battuto" vegetables in a food processor and whizz around until you have very small pieces, almost a paste. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium then add the battuto. Sautee while the vegetables steam and let off their liquid. Stir until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture starts to genuinely fry in the oil. You willl not get good browning with this but that's ok; it'll still be delicious. Add the soaked beans plus 6 cups of water, the parmesan rind and the bay leaves. Now your beans and flavorings are floating in a golden broth flecked with green. This battuto and water combination replaces the chicken broth; you'll never miss it! Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are tender. Add the escarole, the tomato puree, the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Allow to simmer another 20 minutes until the escarole is tender and the flavors have melded.

Serve in big bowls with lots of parmesan to go around and crusty bread.Music to eat Good Friday meatless escarole and beans by: Good Friday by CocoRosie.


Blogger Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan, I love a good "schkarol" and bean soup, and this will be perfect for our Festa table. Thanks so much for joining us! And you're right, there has been pepper and egg sandwiches in every beef stand all over the place out here. MMmm!

3:25 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I love this type of soup, sounds fantastic!

5:29 PM  
Blogger Maryann said...

One of my favorite dishes! A classic! Thanks for joining our Festa Italiana, Susan :)

10:32 PM  
Blogger Mrs. W said...

Wow! Your soup looks amazing--escarole is one of my favorite greens, and one of the few that my husband will actually eat, so you can bet I'll be trying this soup soon.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Marie, Thanks for hosting Festa Italiana!

Hi Kalyn, Thank you!

Hi Maryann, Thanks for organizing the event!

Hi Mrs. W., That's great - my husband isn't an escarole fan, though.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

This looks really good. I confess that I have never tried escarole before . . . perhaps it is time to give it a try!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

mmm! looks so good! and with the battuto instead of chicken broth, it's vegetarian friendly! :) gotta try this--thanks!

7:42 AM  

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