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Escarole is a dark, leafy, green vegetable in the chicory family. It has a slightly bitter taste that lends a subtle flavor to cooked foods and salads.
Kale, curly endives, chicory, and spinach are good escarole substitutes because they all have a similar bitter flavor. Like escarole, these dark, leafy vegetables are an excellent source of Vitamins A, K, and C, and are a healthy addition to your diet.
Escarole looks a lot like lettuce and is a common ingredient in Italian dishes. The dark outer leaves of escarole should be sauteed or braised, added to improve the flavor of lentils or as a side for beans, and eaten as a side dish, while the light inner leaves are great in salads.
Best Substitute for Escarole: Kale
The best escarole substitute is kale. Kale is a leafy green vegetable that has thick, dark leaves and works well as a substitute for escarole in cooked dishes.
Sauté or braise kale leaves as a 1:1 escarole substitute in soups, stews, meatballs, and pasta dishes. Kale is also a great substitute for escarole in salads because of its crunchy texture and bitter flavor.
Other Escarole Substitutes
There are numerous leafy green vegetables that you can use in place of escarole.
Chicory is a leafy vegetable with crisp, pale green leaves. Because of its mildly bitter flavor, chicory makes a great escarole substitute.
You can use fresh chicory as an alternative to escarole in salads and in cooked foods. Add one part chicory in place of one part escarole for a subtle, bitter flavor in soups and stews.
Endive is a bitter leafy green vegetable that works well as an escarole substitute. With a similar texture to escarole, endive adds flavor to raw salads and cooked foods.
Endives are an effective substitute for escarole because they have crispy leaves that add a delicious crunch to salads.
Braised or sauteéd endives can be added to soups and meat dishes on a 1:1 basis in place of escarole.
Arugula is an uncommon leafy vegetable with a peppery, lemony flavor and a citrus aroma. Arugula can be used as an escarole substitute in fresh salads. It also works well as an alternative to escarole in Italian dishes like pasta and tomato-based sauces.
Most people are familiar with spinach as a healthy vegetable filled with essential vitamins and minerals. Rich in Vitamin K, and with a similar bitter flavor to escarole, spinach works well as a 1:1 escarole substitute in fresh salads and cooked foods.
Spinach is a great addition to dishes containing eggs and cheese and can be used in almost any recipe that calls for escarole.
Frisée looks very similar to lettuce and is often called frisée lettuce. However, it is not actually lettuce. Frisée is a member of the endive family and is often referred to as curly endive.
Frisée makes a great substitute for escarole because it has a similar bitter taste and a crunchy texture. Use raw frisée in salads as a 1:1 substitute for escarole.
The flavor of frisée is milder than escarole, so you should adjust the seasonings in the dish accordingly and add some extra spice to compensate for the mild overall flavor.
Use frisée as a 1.5:1 alternative to escarole in cooked foods. You should use a little more frisée to make up for its milder flavor.
Romaine lettuce is a leafy vegetable with a sharp, bitter flavor and can be used as an escarole substitute in many recipes. The crunchy texture of its leaves makes romaine lettuce a perfect replacement for escarole in fresh salads.
You can braise or sauté romaine lettuce and add it to meat dishes, soups, and stews in place of escarole on a 1:1 basis.
Radicchio, sometimes also called Italian Chicory, is a vegetable with white-ribbed, burgundy-colored leaves. Radicchio works as an escarole substitute because of its similar bitter flavor, but the bitterness in radicchio is more pronounced.
When using radicchio as a substitute for escarole, use slightly less than the amount suggested in your recipe to allow for the extra bitterness. Be aware that radicchio will change the color of your dish, giving it a reddish tinge. This can be very attractive in salads.
Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant. They have a strong, peppery flavor. Mustard greens don’t have the same bitter taste as escarole, but their peppery taste adds an extra tang when you use mustard greens as a substitute for escarole.
Mustard greens can be sauteéd or braised and added to cooked foods like soups and stews in place of escarole, but they are not a suitable escarole substitute in salads because their sharp, peppery flavor can be overpowering.
Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable that is similar to spinach, but Swiss chard has a slightly sweeter flavor than spinach. There are different types of Swiss chard, with different colored stalks, such as white, orange, or red. All are suitable escarole substitutes.
Swiss chard leaves are bigger and thicker than escarole leaves and need a long cooking time to soften. Use chopped Swiss chard as an alternative to escarole in a fresh salad, sauteéd, or braised in stir-fries or stews.
Beet greens are the highly nutritious leaves of the beetroot plant. With a similar flavor to escarole, beet greens can be used as an escarole substitute in most recipes, but mainly for cooked foods.
Sauteéd or braised beet greens can be added to stir-fries or meat dishes as a 1:1 replacement for escarole.
Raw beet greens work as a substitute for escarole in fresh salads because they have a similar taste and texture to escarole.
Bok choy (also called pok choy or pak choy) is a leafy vegetable that tastes like cabbage and is popular in Chinese cuisine. With its mild, only slightly bitter flavor, Bok choy doesn’t have exactly the same taste as escarole, but it works as a substitute for escarole in many cooked dishes.
You can use raw bok choy in salads, and you can sauté or braise it and add it to stir-fries, soups, and stews. Use bok choy as a 1:1 substitute for escarole.