This dish is the quintessential Italian peasant dish. It is easy, inexpensive, and delicious. I like to add cannellini beans to make the dish heartier, and often serve this on my holiday buffet with my antipasto. I first learned how to make this dish from Grandma Colombo. I remember visiting her at home in Staten Island, specifically to watch her make this dish. She told me many times that she combined the escarole with olive oil and garlic, which seemed incredibly simple, but I could not simulate the taste. When I watched her, I knew why…she forgot to include a couple of steps, namely blanching the escarole first. (Her response was…of course you blanch it first!) She also had a heavy hand with the olive oil, and used the marinating liquid from a jar of green olives. To this day, I still cannot simulate the taste exactly, but this recipe is pretty close.
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, Sliced Thin
2 Bunches of Escarole, Cleaned Well and Chopped in 2” Sections
½ Cup Black & Green Olives, Pitted and Chopped, (Optional)
Pignoli Nuts (Optional) & Salt & Pepper to Taste
In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the chopped escarole in batches for approx. 3 minutes. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Transfer the escarole into a bath of ice water to cool. When the escarole is cooled, strain, and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and sliced garlic. Heat for approx. 1 minute, until the garlic is light brown. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the escarole. Heat through and add the chopped olives and pignoli nuts, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.