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.
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.
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.
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.