sausage escarole croutine2

Escarole and Sausage over Crispy Bread with Melted Cheese

This is a delicious, one-dish meal that my husband and I crave when the weather is cold and our energy is dragging.  Try broccoli raab instead of escarole, or simply omit the sausage for a vegetarian version. But whatever you do, buy really good bread, because the bread’s texture and taste unify all the ingredients into a beguiling whole. We buy flat Turkish bread from the Taskin bakery in New Jersey when we don’t have our own leftover focaccia.

A word on Kashkaval: this is a semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese typical of Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. I grew up enjoying it thanks to my Romanian-born mother. It is available in most well-stocked cheese shops, and ranges from milky and just  a tad sharp when aged a few months, to salty and almost crumbly when aged longer. For this dish, select the younger Kashkaval, as it will melt better and won’t overwhelm the other flavors. If Kashkaval is not available, use a good quality imported Fontina from Val d’Aosta, or another mild melting cheese of your liking.

Serves 2

For the sausage and escarole:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/2 pound  spicy Italian sausages with fennel seeds, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 pound (1 large bunch) escarole leaves, washed thoroughly and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the bread:

  • 4 cups cubed Italian focaccia or other neutral flatbread
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound fresh Mozzarella (preferably bufala), drained and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 ounces young Kashkaval or Fontina from Val d’Aosta, rind removed if needed and coarsely grated

sausage-escarole-ingredient

Make the sausage and escarole: Place the olive oil, fennel seeds, garlic, and chili  in a wide pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Warm gently over medium heat until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the crumbled sausage and cook 10 minutes,  stirring often, or until the sausage is nicely browned all over. Add the escarole, season with the salt and pepper, and cover.

sausage-escarole-pot

Cook 10 minutes, stirring once in a while, or until the escarole softens and collapses and releases its liquid; the liquid is essential to this dish, so keep the lid on. Remove from the heat until you are ready to serve.

sausage-escarole-top

Make the bread: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (preferably set on convection). On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss the cubed bread with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until the bread just begins to take on a golden color and starts to get a bit crunchy here and there; do not toast it all the way through, or the dish will be dry,  as the bread has to bake a second time with the cheese.

sausage-escarole-bread

Scatter the Mozzarella and Kashkaval on top of the toasted bread.

sausage-escarole-cheese

Return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the bread finishes toasting and browning, and the cheeses melt.

To serve: Reheat the sausage and escarole. Spoon one-quarter of the hot bread and cheese mixture onto each of 2 plates. Top each with one-quarter of the hot escarole and sausage mixture, then another layer of the bread and cheese mixture, and finally the remaining escarole and sausage mixture. Pour any pan juices from the escarole and sausage over the finished plates and serve hot.

4 thoughts on “Escarole and Sausage over Crispy Bread with Melted Cheese”

  1. Micol – I love your recipes and have taken a few of your fabulous cooking classes. I’m excited to see the blog, and am wondering if there is a way to print off the recipes you’re sharing.

    1. Dear Phyllis, Thank you for the note! You can select the text of the recipe you wish to print, copy it, and paste it onto a blank document, then print. Hopefully we’ll find a way to add “printer friendly” recipes on the blog soon! Keep in touch and we look forward to having you in class again soon!! Ciao, Micol

  2. Thanks Micol! Looking forward to trying the sausage with escarole recipe , since it looks like winter is staying with us for a while longer.

    1. Indeed winter is lingering this year! But we will post spring recipes soon to welcome spring!

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