(Makes 8 rolls)
2 heads of escarole, about 1 pound each
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup black olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons raisins, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Additional olive oil for the baking pan and drizzling
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Rinse the escarole with water to remove any dirt. Put the heads of escarole into the boiling water. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, to soften the leaves. Transfer the escarole to a colander to drain and cool.
In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup pecorino, and pine nuts.
Remove about 1/3 cup of the mixture and set it aside for the topping.
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the olives, raisins, and capers; cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the olive mixture to the bowl with the larger amount of bread crumbs. Stir the mixture to combine. If it seems too dry , add a little more olive oil. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking dish with olive oil.
Place the blanched head of escarole on a cutting board. Cut each head in half lengthwise through the leaves and core. Then slice each half lengthwise again; so each head yields 4 pieces. Spread each cluster open like a fan, wider at the top and narrowing toward the base. Flatten the leaves of each cluster so that they look like one single leaf. Cut off the tough cores that are holding the clusters together.
Place about 2 tablespoons of the bread crumb filling near the base of each cluster. Roll up the bottom, just enough to cover the filling. Fold in the sides, and continue rolling to form compact stuffed rolls.
Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish, leaving space between them.
Sprinkle salt over the tops of the rolls. Top with the reserved bread crumb mixture and remaining pecorino. Drizzle a little olive oil over the rolls. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, tented so it doesn’t touch the rolls. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The tops of the rolls should be crisp and browned. Serve hot.
Escarole stuffed with the flavors of Siciliy, olives, raisins, capers, garlic, pine nuts, and pecorino cheese, make for a delectable dish. Serve as a vegetarian main course, a side dish to meat or poultry, or as part of an antipasto platter.
VEGETABLE ENTRÉES > STUFFED ESCAROLE