Monday, May 16, 2011

there's lettuce in my pasta

Like I mentioned in my menu, I've always skipped over recipes calling for escarole, primarily because I can never find it at Whole Foods.  To my great delight, I came home with some yesterday, so tonight I made Penne with Cannellini Beans and Escarole from Vegan Italiano.

Isn't it lovely?  So... green!  I have a confession to make: I've never had escarole until tonight.  In addition to having an extraordinary amount of trouble locating it in center city, it was most certainly never a part of meals growing up outside the city.  Mister was very surprised when I shared my escarole epiphany with him since he grew up in a hippie family with a Greek dad and part-Sicilian mom; dark leafy greens and various other things that never crossed my lips until adulthood were a regular part of the days there was money for food in his childhood.

My take?  It's kind of weird, isn't it?  I think I imagined escarole to be a dark leafy green, kind of like Tuscan kale but with the texture of spinach or chard - a silky green that would linger briefly on my tongue before following the penne down my throat.  I couldn't have been too much more wrong - it was more like I had added lettuce to my pasta.  It was a little crunchy, a little bitter, and plenty chewy - more like the look of lettuce with the toughness of kale.  I should have realized I was wrong when I was chopping it.  It was actually tough to chop!  Ordinarily, my fancy new knives slice through greens like butter, but not this time - I actually had to put some elbow grease in.

The combination of escarole, tomatoes, garlic, and cannellini beans was classically Italian and completely delightful.  I served dinner with a generous bowlful of mixed Mediterranean olives in a vinegary brine, accompanied by a glass of Apothic Red for my sipping pleasure.  It could only have been a more perfectly rustic and Country Italian meal if we were eating outside as the sun set behind a far-off horizon with a basket full of crusty, warm bread to sop up the sauce.

And just when you thought I couldn't paint a more delightful picture of [food-provoked] happiness, you must have forgotten (or not known) that I baked last night after my post!

I called them macaroons, but Hannah calls them Coconut Drop Cookies.  They just magically appeared in my inbox one day, courtesy of the VegNews e-newsletter I get monthly.  Okay, the cookies themselves did not magically appear, but the simpler-than-pie recipe sure did and it took very little time to pull all of the ingredients together and make my kitchen smell amazing.

The best thing about these cookies (besides everything) is that the recipe makes 10.  That is a totally manageable number of cookies.  I really don't like cookie recipes that yield a tremendous number of cookies (unless it's the holiday season - any holiday season - and I'm baking for a crowd) because they make too big a mess and then I have too many cookies anyway.  Ten cookies?  Well, we'll get through almost half the first night and they'll be gone by tomorrow night.

They have the most amazing flavor.  Like I said, they are super simple to make, so please do yourself a favor and click that link.  Make these cookies and enjoy them with a tall glass of nondairy milk.  I rarely drink soymilk because it does have kind of a weird aftertaste when you're drinking it solo (I use unsweetened original - no flavor and no added sugars), but these cookies are so rich and flavorful, I dare you to try to eat them alone.  Actually, I don't - why mess it up?  Just enjoy with a cup of coffee or your favorite nondairy beverage - there are two delightfully contradictory flavors that come together in a way that enhances each: the tropical sweetness of toasted coconut and the spark of salt from an unusually large measure added to the recipe.

Dear Lord...I think it's time for dessert.


  1. I thought those looked great, too! I'm going to have to try the cookies before it gets too hot here to consider turning on the oven.

  2. Jackie, they are astonishingly good. Please don't wait another day. They need to be your dessert tomorrow :)

  3. I've never tried escarole either but I will see if I an find it. Sometimes you can't find what you're not looking for. ;)