Escarole with a gourmet surprise

This underestimated greens are in fact a fantastic source of vitamins and have a very interesting bittersweet flavour. In the Italian cooking tradition there is a long list of recipes for preparing escarole. Very much so in my region, Campania, where escarole are commonly used in the winter in soups (minestrone), in casseroles with pork and other meat (the famous minestra maritata), and also to prepare a very traditional two layer escarole pizza (pizza con la scarola). Soon I will prepare the pizza, but this time I needed something faster and more simple for dinner. So, sauteed escarole with steamed potatoes and a surprising sauce… For the two of us I used a whole big bunch of escarole (it reduces a lot during cooking) and three big size potatoes.

First thing, peel and chop in small cubes the potatoes. Put them in a bag for microwave steam cooking and let them cook for 6-7 minutes (according to instructions on the bag). Alternatively of course boil potatoes in salty water and drain them. Pour oil into a large saute pan with garlic and cook for about 5-6 minutes over medium-low heat stirring often until garlic is blonde. Add the escarole in pan and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and add three tablespoons of water. Cover the pan and let it cook for a couple minutes, stir a couple times until escarole is wilted, about four minutes overall. At this point remove potatoes from the bag and sautee in a large pan with a sprinkle of olive oil for a couple minutes.

Prepare the sauce by blending in a small bowl or in the food processing cup of your mixer the following: one tablespoon capers, one tablespoon cured pitted black olives, four cured anchovies in oil, one tablespoon pine seeds, pepper, two tablespoons olive oil. Blend until ingredients are well mixed. You see in the picture that I had a creamy consistency, it is much better if you reduce blending time and leave the sauce coarser with larger pieces, the colour and the consistency will be much nicer. After blending add, if you have it but is optional, a tablespoon of mustard grains. Serve hot with the sauce on the side.

You will be very surprised of what a boost of flavor this simple gourmet sauce will give to your dish and how the anchovies offer an interesting contrast with the otherwise mellow flavour of this dish  without adding any fishy undertone. If you are vegetarian simply replace the anchovies with a tablespoon of mustard. Enjoy!

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