Utica Greens (Escarole with Proscuitto, Hot Peppers, Grated Cheese, and Breadcrumbs)
Spicy and flavorful greens good enough to eat as a main meal
- 2 large heads escarole (or any greens that you like; kale, swiss chard, etc)
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic , minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
- 2 to 4 cherry hot peppers (to taste), chopped/not seeded*
- 1/3 pound of proscuitto (Italian ham)**, chopped (can also use salami, bacon, other ham)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs plus 2 tablespoons for topping , toasted
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano (my preference) plus 2 tablespoons for topping
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper , to taste
Cut off and discard the hard bottom stem from each head of escarole
Wash the escarole thoroughly, remove any damaged leaves, and rough chop
Place escarole in 5 quart stock pot and fill with enough water to cover greens
Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not overcook) (some of the greens are cooked until the greens are extremely wilted and some people prefer it that way - cook to your liking, I prefer the greens a bit crisp)
Drain escarole very well, press out all water/broth from greens, and set aside
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat
Add hot peppers until softened, about 3 or 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
Add the cooked and drained greens to pan and stir to combine.
Optional but highly recommended - place greens in refrigerator overnight so the garlic infuses through the greens - this changes the flavor!
Finish by combining 1/2 cup toasted breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup grated cheese, and 1 tablespoon of ollive then add all but 2 to 4 tablespoons to the greens. (reserve the 2 to 4 tablespoons to top the dish)
Add proscuitto/ham, enough chicken broth to moisten the greens, and then taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste
Place greens in an over-safe casserole, top with reserved breadcrumbs and cheese
Place casserole under broiler for 4 to 6 minutes until brown checking frequently
May prepare this dish ahead of time if needed
*Can use red pepper flakes to taste in place of cherry hot peppers, jarred hot cherry peppers or any hot peppers that you enjoy.
**Parma or San Daniele; other brands are not recommended