Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Utica Greens

A great side dish or appetizer. Found throughout the Syracuse - Utica area, these "greens" have a great amount of spice and are hearty on a cold day. Very good with crusty bread as an app or right on the side of anything.

Perhaps even on a slice of pizza too.

2 - 3 heads of escarole
3 - 6 hot Italian pickled cherry peppers
6 slices of thick cut salami, cut into 1/4" chunks
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TSP red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 TBS grated Parmesan (or more, pending your preference)
Extra virgin olive oil

Bring a VERY large pot of salted water to boil. While waiting....

Quarter the cherry peppers and remove the seeds. Coarsely chop half of them, leave the other half quartered.

In a large (6 quart, if you've got it) saute pan over medium heat add about 3 TBS of olive oil and get it to shimmering. Add the salami and saute until evidence of crispiness shows. Add the garlic and and saute for about a minute, then add the cherry peppers. Saute over medium heat for about 2 more minutes and then remove from heat.

Take the escarole and chop off the bottom 1/4. Add the leaves to the boiling water, pushing them down after each addition. Blanch for about 1 minute. [There's no need to wash the escarole prior to blanching - this will take care of it.] Strain the escarole and immediately run cold tap water over to cool the leaves down.

Bring the salami-pepper mix up to medium high heat. Squeeze excess water out of the escarole and add to the mix with the red pepper flakes along with some additional juice from the cherry peppers pending your heat tolerance. Add more olive oil as desired (by this point I've got about 1/4 cup total in there). Toss to mix and saute for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over this, toss a few times, and then serve with grated parmesan on top.

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