Utica Greens Recipe

In the late 1800s, the Central New York city of Utica became home to a thriving community of southern-Italian immigrants. A popular dish on dinner tables was escarole cooked with a rich mix of prosciutto, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs. In the 1980s, local Italian-American chef Joe Morelle put it on his restaurant menu as “Greens Morelle.” It became such a hit, other restaurants adapted and renamed it Utica Greens. 

Utica Greens

serves 4-6

Chef’s Tip: This recipe lends itself to countless variations. Turn it into a main course by adding cooked white beans or sausage with the escarole. Keep it vegetarian by skipping the prosciutto and swapping in vegetable stock for the chicken stock. For a gluten- and dairy-free version, leave out the breadcrumbs and Parmesan. 

Shopping List
4 slices prosciutto
1 yellow onion
5 or 6 cloves peeled fresh garlic
1 small jar hot cherry peppers (packed in vinegar)
1 large head escarole (about 1 pound)
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano

From your pantry
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, olive oil

Garlic press or fine-toothed grater, optional, small bowl, large ovenproof frying pan


1 Prep the ingredients

  • Heat the broiler.
  • Coarsely chop the prosciutto.
  • Peel and coarsely chop the yellow onion.
  • Finely chop, press, or grate enough garlic to measure 2 tablespoons.
  • Coarsely chop enough hot cherry peppers to measure ¼ cup (about 5 peppers).
  • Measure out 2 tablespoons of the cherry pepper vinegar from the jar. 

2 Cook the prosciutto, onion, and peppers
In a large ovenproof frying pan over medium heat, warm 2 to 3 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the prosciutto and cook until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. 

Add the onion to the pan, season with salt and black pepper, and cook until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cherry peppers and continue to cook until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

While the vegetables cook, prepare the escarole.

3 Prep and cook the escarole

  • Trim the root end from the escarole; cut the escarole into 2-inch pieces.

To the pan with the onion mixture, stir in the escarole and cook until slightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and 1 tablespoon cherry pepper vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a vigorous simmer, and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the prosciutto, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and the remaining cherry pepper vinegar. 

While the escarole cooks, prepare the breadcrumb topping. 

4 Prep the breadcrumbs; finish the Utica greens

  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. 

Sprinkle the escarole with the breadcrumb mixture and drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Transfer the pan to the top rack of the oven and broil until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned and the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

5 Serve
Transfer the Utica greens to individual plates or invite everyone to serve themselves. 

Nutrition per serving: Protein: 7g (14% DV), Fiber: 3g (12% DV), Total Fat: 11g (17% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5g, Saturated Fat: 2.5g (13% DV), Cholesterol: 15mg (5% DV), Sodium: 720mg (30% DV), Carbohydrates: 14g (5% DV), Total Sugars: 1g, Added Sugars: 0g (0% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

Bonus recipe—ingredients not included in box.