We get bored of the same old sides—broccoli, kale, repeat. So tonight, we’re switching up the menu with this Central New York classic, Utica greens. It’s an Italian American recipe that hails from Utica, New York, and pairs best with a big bowl of chicken riggies (another staple for Central New Yorkers, of course).
Two things to note: One, if you can’t find fresh cherry peppers, you can substitute pickled, or use any other hot red pepper. Two, make sure to really wash the escarole, since it grows in sandy ground. We’ve found the easiest way to do this is to chop off the bottom of the head and separate the leaves before giving them each a thorough rinse.
1 large head escarole, bottom removed and washed
1¼ cups breadcrumbs
1 cup grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan, divided, plus more to garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
3 hot cherry peppers, seeded and chopped (plus more as needed)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices prosciutto, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Preheat the broiler of your oven on high. (If your broiler is at the top of your oven, move one of the oven racks to the top.)
2. Add the escarole to the boiling water in batches, blanching for about 15 seconds then immediately transferring to the ice bath to cool. When the blanched escarole is cool, drain it into a colander and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and ½ cup of the pecorino (or Parmesan). Stir in ½ cup olive oil until the mixture is evenly moistened. Set aside.
4. In a medium skillet, heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cherry peppers; season with salt and cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and prosciutto; cook until the garlic is aromatic and the prosciutto is beginning to brown, about 3 minutes more.
5. Squeeze any excess water from the escarole before adding it to the skillet; stir to combine. Season lightly with salt. Evenly spread the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the skillet, then transfer to the oven and broil until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and serve with more cheese on the side.