I was first introduced to my husband’s family about six years ago. It was baptism by fire entering Grandma Tessie’s basement for Sunday dinner. The “dinner” actually started about 2pm and went straight through till ten o’clock that night with course upon course, one more delicious than the next. The Tranis spend hours on end talking about their family, quoting Grandma Tessie and thoroughly enjoying some pretty amazing food. Even though it has been many family meals since that first meeting, there are certain quotes and people who stand out a little more than others.
“You only ask the sick,” happens to be one of my favorite Grandma Tessie quotes. I’m one of those people who absolutely hates to ask for help or ask for anything else for that matter. Pat’s aunt, Aunt Marie, seemed to get that from day one. Lucky for us, she only lives two doors away and you NEVER have to ask her for anything. She instinctively seems to know when we are getting home late, when our children are sick, or when we just don’t feel like cooking that night. Within minutes, Uncle Louie is ringing the bell with something hot and delicious.
When I first moved into our apartment, the very first thing Aunt Marie sent over was Escarole and Beans. Up until that point I detested escarole but Pat was enjoying it so much that I had to give it a try…. Needless to say, I make it at least once every two weeks. It is an inexpensive meal that tastes like a feast. Enjoy!
Aunt Marie’s Escarole and Beans
- 3 (15.5oz)cans of Goya Small White Beans (for a meatier tasting bean, you can use regular Cannellini beans)
- 6 small bunches of Escarole
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4tbspn of olive oil
- 1 8oz can of tomato sauce (we use Red Pack)
- 3 cups of Chicken Stock
- 2 cups water
- Grated Parmesan Cheese (to taste)
- 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
CLEAN your escarole VERY well… rip apart each leaf in small pieces and clean thoroughly. Let most of the water run off in a colander in the sink. While the escarole is draining, in a large pot (4qrts or bigger) saute the minced garlic in oil till they are a very light brown light brown.
Add your chicken stock, water, and escarole with salt and pepper to taste. Don’t worry if you need to push the escarole into the pot. It eventually wilts down to half the pot anyway. Cover with a lid on medium heat for about 25 minutes. Please make sure to mix the pot well every 10 minutes or so. Grab the leaves from the bottom and pull them on top. This way each leaf has a chance to properly cook.
Once the leaves have completely wilted and turned a much darker green, add the sauce and all three cannellini bean cans, without rinsing them out. I like to add about 1/4 cup grated cheese and a tsp of red pepper flakes. That is totally up to your own personal preference though. Lower the heat to a simmer and leave it for about 30-40 minutes. Serve it with some toasted Italian bread slices.
The best part of a meal is sharing it. Don’t ask your family, friends or neighbors if they want any… Just deliver a bowl to them. Remember: “You only ask the sick.”