Recipes

ESCAROLE AND WHITE BEAN SALAD WITH FENNEL AND GRUYERE CHEESE

1/2 cup small dry white beans
1/4 teaspoon salt Mustard Vinaigrette (see below)
1 tablespoon green onions chives, thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons Italian Parsley, chopped
1 small fennel bulb or several celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, cut into julienne
Pepper
6 handfuls (about 12 cups) escarole leaves
2 tablespoons butter 2 slices rye bread or Country French Bread, cut into cubes for croutons

Sort through the beans and rinse them well. Cover them with boiling water and let them soak for 1 hour; then pour off the soaking liquid. Cover them generously with fresh water, bring them to a boil, add the salt, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are tender but still hold their shape, 45 minutes or longer, as needed. Drain, and save the liquid to use in a soup stock. While the beans are cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. When the beans have cooled down so that they are warm but no longer hot, toss them with half the vinaigrette and the herbs, fennel and cheese. Season to taste with salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Prepare the greens. Use the pale inner leaves of the escarole, torn or cut into pieces; tear or slice the radicchio into smaller pieces. Wash the greens carefully, giving special attention to the bases of the escarole leaves, which often hold a lot of silt. Spin them dry and if they are not to be used right away, wrap them in a kitchen towel and store them in the refrigerator. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the bread cubes, and toss them well. Fry them over low heat until they are brown and crisp all over, shaking the pan every so often so they don't burn. To assemble the salad, toss the greens with the remaining vinaigrette; then add the beans and the croutons and toss again. Arrange the salad in a shallow, flat bowl with the beans distributed evenly among the greens.

Mustard Vinaigrette

1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream (or plain soy yogurt)
6 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Grind the tarragon and the fennel seeds with a pestle to bruise them and partially break them up. Put them in a bowl with the vinegar, salt, mustard, and creme fraiche or sour cream, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the olive oil vigorously until the ingredients are completely amalgamated into a thick sauce. The dressing will be very strong.

Adapted from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison with Edward Espe Brown