Escarole, a leafy green in the endive family, made an appearance at my co-op last week. I've never cooked with it before and, never one to pass up an opportunity to try a seasonal green, I grabbed two heads and started a recipe search. Our first taste of it was in a very simple salad with avocado, Parmesan, and a vinaigrette and it was very tasty. Tangy and fresh. I found a couple pizza recipes using escarole and learned that dish is traditional regional Italian Christmas fare. With a little tweeking, I came up with our own version and I think it's wonderful. A beautiful balance of salty with just a hint of sweet from the raisins. Steve doesn't like anchovies, so he was less enthused. This only means that I need to find some anchovy-loving friends with whom to share this pizza!
1 1/2 - 2 heads escarole
4 TBS. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful of black olives (about 15), sliced
2 oz. can anchovies and capers in oil, finely chopped
1/2 C. walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 C. raisins, roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. fresh mozzarella
Freshly-made pizza dough
1. Prepare your favorite pizza dough recipe. While it's rising, bring a large pot of water to boil.
2. Prepare the escarole. Remove any damaged outer leaves. Cut in half, from end to tip and then roughly chop crosswise. Put the leaves in the basket of a large salad spinner and fill the bowl with water. Swish the leaves around and then wait a moment to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom. Lift out the basket, dump the water, and repeat.
3. Once the water is boiling, plunge in the leaves, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 min.
4. Drain the leaves, squeeze out the water and set aside.
5. In a large pan with tall sides, heat 2 TBS. of the olive oil over medium heat. Gently saute the garlic, olives, anchovies, walnuts, and raisins for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the escarole and cook for 8-10 minutes.
7. Roll out your pizza dough and brush with the remaining 2 TBS. of olive oil.
8. Spread the escarole mixture evenly over the dough. Season with oregano and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
9. Slice the ball of mozzarella and then tear into pieces to cover.
10. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes, checking at 15 minutes for doneness.