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Get Your Greens – Upstate NY Style

July 22, 2011

Man oh man, we are on a roll of good recipes this week! Today’s is a dish called Utica Greens, which of course originated in Cleveland. Or Utica, NY, actually. It began when Italian immigrants settled the area, and became a regional specialty. They even have a Utica Greens festival every year. This recipe, from the Hannaford Supermarket magazine, uses the traditional ingredients, though there are other variations. It’s a great way to get some leafy greens into your diet, and the dish overall is pretty healthy. You’ll notice there is no salt required – the prosciutto provides enough. The breadcrumbs give it a nice textural component, and the cheese and spicy peppers makes it a marvelous mouthful. We forgot to get the cherry peppers, so we used crushed red pepper (about 1 tbsp.) and it was still great (but if you can get the peppers, do so). The key is to not overcook the escarole – it should be wilted, but not limp. Normally Utica Greens is served as an appetizer or side dish, but this will serve 4 as a main course along with some fresh bread. It’s surprisingly delicious, as Utica is not known for being a culinary mecca…YET. Enjoy!

Utica Greens

(serves 4)

2 each heads escarole (about 2 lbs.)

4 teaspoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 slices (about 3 oz.) prosciutto, cut in short, thin strips

2 hot cherry peppers, minced

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup bread crumbs

1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, grated

Cut off the bottoms of the escarole heads and wash the leaves thoroughly in cold water. Set aside to drain in a colander. In a pot large enough to hold all the escarole, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, prosciutto, and cherry peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic and peppers are soft and the prosciutto is lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Coarsely chop escarole and place it in the pot along with the chicken broth. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until escarole has cooked down and is completely wilted, 10 to 14 minutes. While escarole cooks, stir together the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Add all but 3 tbsp. of the bread crumb mixture to the prosciutto mixture in the large bowl. Preheat the oven broiler, and spray a 7-by-11-inch pan or 8- or 9-inch square pan with vegetable cooking spray. When the escarole is wilted, add it (along with the liquid in the pot) to the prosciutto mixture, stirring to combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved 3 tbsp. bread crumb mixture on top. Broil for 5 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Serve hot. Eat!

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