Lunch for One: Escarole Salads


[Photo: Kathy YL Chan]

Escarole is one of my favorite types of greens to use at home when preparing a salad. And for this reason, I tend to keep a sharp eye out for escarole salads in restaurants to pick up ideas and inspirations. Two places in particular have versions so good that I return for them time after time—it just doesn't taste the same when I make it at home. The first is Otto's Sunchoke and Escarole Salad ($8), which is featured throughout the year, and a much-loved classic at Otto. Toasty marcona almond bits meet chopped escarole in a bright lemony olive oil-based dressing. The salad really comes together with the cheese, something like a mild, soft feta, and the fresh crunch of sunchokes, sliced extra-thin. It's always perfectly tossed, the dressing light and evenly distributed. It works as a lunch on its own with a side of Otto's bread and olive oil, or as a starter to one of the pasta dishes; perhaps this taccozzette?


Slightly further west is Buvette, where the Escarole Salad ($10) shows up as frequent special on their chalkboard menu. Big garlic-rubbed croutons tossed in with torn escarole leaves, a dressing of mustard, sherry vinegar and olive oil—with the salty punch of anchovies. But not the whole fillet; it's chopped and tossed in like the croutons, briny bites nestled in each forkful. A whole hard boiled egg, yolk and all, is shaved over the salad surface, making for a feathery, texturally whimsical change from simply chopped hard boiled eggs.


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