My first encounter with a salad similar to this one was at my current favorite spot in the West Village, Via Carota. I was surprised by the simplicity of it all, yet how flavorful and bright it managed to be. Escarole is typically in heavy rotation during the primary weeks for most CSA participants. Aside from white bean and escarole soup, this hearty green typically does not get much of a shining role. For those of you not familiar with this vegetable, escarole is slightly bitter and substantial and looks like lettuce with curly leaves. The dense quality makes it a fantastic addition to soups and stews. In the summer months, when hearty and hot soups are a mere memory, escarole can serve as the leading component in fortifying and filling entrée-sized salads.
To bulk up these greens, seasonal fava beans and toasted fregola (a pasta-like grain from Sardinia similar to Israeli couscous) are tossed together with lemony garlic anchovy dressing. The pièce de résistance comes from a hearty crumble of salty pecorino cheese. No this salad is not gluten-free or dairy-free but it sure is delicious and nutritious, and a great way to eat your greens all summer long.
escarole and fava bean salad
- 3 flat anchovy fillets
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- pinch of chili flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup dried toasted fregola
- 1 head of escarole, leaves torn
- 1lb fava beans, sheeled
- 1/3 cup crumbled pecorino
- optional handful of quick pickled onions ( i omit the sugar and used seasonal spring onions)
- In a blender, pulse anchovies, garlic, chili flakes, and lemon juice. With motor running add oil in a stream until dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a pot of boiling water, blanch the fava beans until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove beans, place in an ice bath, drain, and peel the beans.
- In the same pot you cooked the beans, add the fregola and cook for 8-12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
- Place dressing in the base of a large serving bowl. Add the escarole leaves, fregola, fava beans, and pickled onions. Gently toss to combine. Top with pecorino.