Escarole is considered an endive of a variety with broad undivided leaves and a slightly bitter flavor. This vegetable offers numerous benefits with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. It is a great addition to soups and salads. Here Lisa Wartenberg, HealthLine.com, reflects on escarole, its health benefits, nutrients, culinary uses; reviewed by Miho Hatanaka, RDN, LD:
“If you enjoy Italian food, you might have already encountered escarole — a leafy, bitter green that looks a lot like lettuce.
Escarole is a traditional ingredient in Italian wedding soup, which usually combines this vegetable with a small, round pasta and meatballs or sausage in chicken broth. This hearty green can also be found in stews, salads, and pastas.
However, many people don’t know whether to classify escarole as an endive or a lettuce.
This article explains all you need to know about escarole, including its nutrients, health benefits, and culinary uses.
What is escarole?
Escarole (Cichorium endivia) is a member of the chicory family. It’s often confused not only with lettuce but also its botanical relatives, which include curly endive, radicchio, frisée, and other bitter green vegetables (1, 2).
Technically, escarole is considered a flat-leafed variety of endive. What’s commonly called “endive” is Belgian endive, a yellow-green plant with tightly layered, cylindrical leaves (2).
All the same, you’ll usually find this hearty plant bunched in with the kales and lettuces at the supermarket.
While escarole looks a lot like butterhead lettuce, you can tell them apart because escarole has wide, green leaves with slightly jagged, crumpled edges that cluster into a rosette — whereas the broad leaves of lettuce are wavy and smooth (1, 2).
Unlike lettuce, escarole offers a pleasant bitterness and versatility. It’s milder and tenderer than curly endive.
While native to the East Indies, escarole grows in a variety of climates and is now found across the globe. It’s especially popular in Italian cuisine (2).
- Calories: 15
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Iron: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin A: 58% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 164% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 10% of the DV
- Folate: 30% of the DV
- Zinc: 6% of the DV
- Copper: 9% of the DV
With very few calories and no fat, escarole heaps micronutrients and fiber — just 2 raw cups (85 grams) deliver 12% of the DV for fiber (7).
What’s more, this same serving provides 9% of the DV for copper and 30% for folate. Copper supports proper bone, connective tissue, and red blood cell formation, whereas folate helps ensure proper metabolism and create red and white blood cells (8, 9).
Health benefits of escarole
Escarole is nutrient-dense and boasts many potential health benefits.”
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