Mentoponto Full-hearted Escarole

60 days. Well-known to Italians as Scarola, Escarole is a broad open-leafed Chicory long popular in ethnic comfort food. This special Italian variety has a delicious, piquant flavor and a wonderfully crisp texture. It produces a large semi-erect head with elongated, wide, wavy green leaves and a creamy-golden heart. More heat tolerant than Lettuce yet very cold hardy, Mentoponto can be grown year round in many climates. Harvest young in the summer for the best flavor but let it mature fully in the fall and winter. One of our favorite comfort-food soups to make is Chicken Soup with Escarole and Beans. Dice a large yellow Onion, two Celery stalks and two Carrots in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add two minced Garlic cloves: sauté while stirring. Add six cups of warm chicken broth. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. With your kitchen scissors, cut fine ribbons of Escarole into the soup pot (eyeball it: two cups or more, it virtually disintegrates into the soup). Add one cup of prepared white cannellini Beans, one cup of prepared red kidney Beans and two cups of diced cooked chicken. Bring it almost to a boil again, then reduce heat back to simmer. Add a half cup of orzo and simmer for about 15 minutes until the orzo plumps up and is almost tender. Serve piping hot with grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread. (OP.)

One packet of about 500 seeds
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