I first tasted escarole (also called curly endive) when I was backpacking around Italy in the late ’80s and stayed with a family in Campania; my hostess showed me how to cook it with pine nuts and raisins. In Naples it’s often cooked with garlic, anchovies, capers and olives as a filling for a pie called pizza di scarola; I like it as a simple escarole frittata. Escarole is often sold in bunches of 2 heads, which is enough for this dish; separate the small pale leaves for a salad (such as my duck & orange salad) and wash them all thoroughly as they’re usually quite gritty. Frittata is a close cousin to Spanish tortilla, so with this dish I was inspired to try Bodegas Cota45 UBE de Uberrima Carrascal from Sanlucar de Barrameda. Made from three different types of palomino, it’s basically an unfortified Manzanilla, right down to the dry chalkiness and slight hint of salt – and it was a great match.
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 600g curly endive, washed well and roughly chopped
- Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 eggs
- ⅓ cup water
- Tomato salad and crusty bread, for serving
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Heat ⅓ cup of the oil in a large, high-sided frying pan.
- Add onion and a generous dash of salt and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until starting to colour.
- Add escarole and cook, covered and stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until tender, adding it in batches if necessary as each lot wilts to make room for more.
- Whisk eggs and water together, add escarole and a generous grind of pepper and stir well.
- Add remaining oil to an oven-proof high-sided frying pan (large enough to hold the mixture to a depth of about 2cm) and swirl it around to coat the base and sides well.
- Tip the egg mixture into the pan and shake gently to distribute the escarole as evenly as possible.
- Cook, covered, over low heat, for about 5 minutes, until sides are set.
- Place in oven and cook for a further 10 minutes or so, until centre is set and top has coloured slightly.
- Serve in wedges with tomato salad and bread.