Escarole is one of the tastiest greens, a bit bitter but with a satisfying crunch. You’re probably used to making escarole soup, and that’s great. But what will you do if you can’t find any escarole?
You can always opt for other escarole substitutes such as romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, kale, Chinese cabbage, rocket salad, butterhead lettuce, radicchio, frisee, swiss chard, mustard green, and spinach.
These are excellent fallback greens that will serve as a suitable substitutes for escarole for your soups, salad, grilled, sauce, stews, or sauteed.
Best Escarole Substitutes
1. Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce is composed of 96% water, giving it unparalleled hydration potential. It’s crisp and soft and can be used in salads, sandwiches, wraps, and even as a bed for other dishes.
It’s also low in fibers compared to other greens, which means it’s great for picky eaters with sensitive stomachs.
Iceberg Lettuce is a preferable option if you can get escarole for any reason.
If you’re trying to decide between kale and escarole, there are a couple of things to consider that can help you make the right choice.
First, how will you be eating it?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable (part of the cabbage family). Meanwhile, escarole is a member of the chicory food group. They have very different tastes, textures, and nutritional profiles.
Kale is sweet and earthy with a bright, peppery edge. Escarole has a slightly bitter flavor — some say it’s like endive or arugula.
It’s also milder than kale and does not overpower other flavors. Kale has a crisp bite when raw, whereas escarole wilts when cooked. Suppose you’re looking for something to use in salads or garnish; reach for escarole.
Kale will be better if you want something to boil or sauté because it doesn’t wilt as quickly. Lastly, kale is a powerhouse of nutrition — it’s high in fiber and vitamins A, C, and B6 — but there’s also much to love about escarole from a health standpoint.
It contains fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly and more.
3. Chinese Cabbage
Those who use escarole for stir-fry, noodle dishes, dumplings, and salads, know the Chinese Cabbage can stand in for escarole in all these dishes. The crispy texture and mild flavor of Chinese Cabbage give a depth of flavor to these meals.
And when cooked, its mild taste becomes sweeter, so it’s an essential ingredient in many Asian cuisine dishes. Chinese Cabbage is a better choice than Romaine lettuce and a preferable alternative to escarole.
For most people, Chinese Cabbage is the best veggie in the world. You might be thinking, “what about kale?” NO. Kale is a bitter green that is better off thrown out than eaten, and you know it.
Taste a chop of Chinese Cabbage, and I promise you’ll never return to your escarole.
4. Arugula Or Rocket Salad
Life without arugula is like a sky without the stars. Arugula is a fantastic addition to any meal. It can be used in salads, tomato dishes, sauteed vegetables, egg dishes, pasta, or on the top of the pizza.
Due to its bitter taste, it’s used with intense flavors such as garlic, lemon, blue cheese, parmesan, or olive oil.
You will also appreciate arugula more when used raw as a salad with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or grilled chicken, walnuts, cherry tomatoes, or blended into a spread.
There are dozens of delicious ways to use arugula, but the most important thing you need to know is that it’s incredibly healthy for you. Arugula contains many antioxidants, vitamins A, C, K, and folate. It also contains calcium and iron.
So if you’re looking for a healthier version of a salad, arugula is the way to go.
5. Butterhead Lettuce
Go for butterhead lettuce if you want to add a light and delicate note to your recipes and don’t have escarole on hand. Its round sweet leaves are mild and buttery; and will melt gloriously in your mouth.
It also pairs well with roasted pork or blue cheese, but it can also be used in tacos, burgers, or wraps.
You’ll love its light crunch and refreshing flavor!
It’s also straightforward to grow in your garden and doesn’t require special conditions.
Radicchio is often confused with escarole because they look very similar, and they both grow as part of the chicory family.
Radicchio has red-purple leaves with white veins and a bitter, spicy flavor. You can eat radicchio raw like you would any other lettuce. But it’s commonly used cooked because it’s so crisp.
Aside from that, you can roast it, grill it, sautee it, or toss it with hot pasta to give your dish an extra layer of flavor. Radicchio is a versatile vegetable with striking color and a delicious bitter flavor.
It’s excellent in salads, but it can also be roasted, grilled, sauteed, added to pasta, or a hearty stew.
I love sprinkling my roasted radicchio chunks on top of pizza or bruschetta.
7. Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce is long-leafed lettuce with a crispy texture, making it great for the classic salad with a modern twist. It has a slightly bitter taste and can be grilled or sautéed.
Romaine was the original lettuce Caesar salad was created with, so it has some pretty good pedigree.
So you can use it to create a variety of exciting dishes that will give your guests something to talk about – whether for sandwiches, soups, or stir-fries.
Why cook with escarole when you can cook with spinach?
No one is talking about water spinach.
But maybe we should be because they are less bitter than escarole and can be used in place of escarole in soups, smoothies, salads, fried, cooked as a side dish.
Sure, there are several types of spinach, but water spinach is the kind of vegetable we can all get behind even if it’s versatile, forgiving, and easy to cook with.
9. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard and escarole have a lot in common: they are both leafy green vegetable members of the same family, taste similar, and can be used in recipes interchangeably.
Although they’re both reasonably bitter, Swiss chard has earthier tones to its flavor, while escarole is slightly sweeter with a hint of spiciness.
The main differences between Swiss chard and escarole are their appearance and texture.
I’m not trying to be dramatic, but Swiss chard is a vegetable that can change your life.
It’s versatile, richer, and more nutritious than spinach and kale.
Swiss chard is packed with vitamins A, C, and K; calcium; magnesium; potassium; iron; zinc; antioxidants; and fiber.
And it has anti-inflammatory properties. All the good stuff keeps you healthy and helps you heal from injuries faster.
You’ve probably heard of frisee. It’s frilly lettuce with a crisp texture similar to romaine and a mild, bitter flavor.
It’s great in salads, especially chopped up, tossed with other lettuces, and paired with some spicy cheese to liven it up.
This chicory cousin is similar to escarole: it has the same leaf shape, the same general flavor profile, and the same recommendation for using it in salads.
But there’s one crucial difference: its leaves are curly.
Frisee looks like it might be more work than escarole — but that’s not true! It’s easier to cut up than escarole.
You can chop it any way you’d like, toss it into your salad bowl, add your vinaigrette or creamy dressing of choice, and get on with your life.
If you like to experiment and try new food options, your veggie is this.
11. Mustard Greens
If mustard greens are more delicious than escarole, why not use them as a substitute whenever you’re running out?
Both greens have a lot in common. But mustard greens are related to Cabbage, kale, and collard greens—but taste less bitter and more like arugula.
And they are super versatile. You can eat them raw with oil and vinegar, sauteed with oil and herbs, or tossed into soups.
So next time you’re looking to liven up your salad, get mustard greens instead of reaching for escarole. Your taste buds will thank you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Another Name For Escarole?
Escarole has many names, such as Bavarian endive, scarole, or broad-leaved endive. They are all greens with broad, curly leaves and a slightly bitter flavor.
What Does Escarole Taste Like?
Escarole tastes greeny and slightly bitter, like dandelion or radicchio green. Although, the outer leave are more bitter compared to the milder and more tender inner leaves.
Is Escarole The Same As Chicory?
Escarole is not the same as chicory. Indeed, their names are often used interchangeably, but they are two different plants from different families.
Escarole has smooth, rounded, broad leaves. Chicory has curly leaves with jagged edges. Escarole can be eaten raw or cooked, which is a little bitter. Chicory is only eaten cooked, and it isn’t delightful.
How Can You Mellow Escarole’s Bitterness?
Escarole is a leafy green vegetable often cooked and enjoyed in soups, stews, and salads. However, serving can be challenging if it’s not prepared correctly.
There are many ways to prepare escarole, but the most common method used to get rid of the bitterness is to immerse the escarole in hot but not boiling water for 2 minutes.
Remove and put it in a bowl filled with cold water. Then leave it for five minutes. The temperature change will help reduce the bitterness, making it milder and more enjoyable to taste.
So summary, I have given you the reasoning behind using the Escarole Substitute.
I leave you with an exercise: try and grow your own, from seed to harvest. You may never want to go back to the store repurchased.
Besides, you don’t have to spend much or keep visiting the stores whenever you’re out. You could see your backyard and grab a few to make your favorite recipes.