Italian Utica Greens Recipe

Sunday, August 30, 2020
Italian Utica, New York Greens, was a staple growing up in the 1960s in my home. Mom made them all the time, simple, sauteed in olive oil, freshly minced garlic, salt, and pepper as a side dish.

Later on, in the 1970s, they were on almost all the menus in Utica and surrounding towns for a breakfast side dish with eggs or for dinner.

Then in the 1980s a new way to make them became famous in my hometown by Joe Morelle, who created another style of greens that were amazing and great for a whole meal with his delicious additions.

Greens became more widely known as "Utica Greens," it has become commonplace, in modified versions, in Italian restaurants throughout Central New York, and even migrated to New York City, Las Vegas, and Florida.

My hometown has so many wonderful creations and often referred to as Little Italy for some many ethnic authentic dishes, some famous for just the area like Greens and Beans,  Tomato Pie, Italian Greens, Italian Lemon Ice, Pizza Fritta, Chicken Riggies, Manny's Cheesecake, Oscugnizzo Pizza, Pusties and Rosato Chocolate Cookies.

If you haven't tried greens all different ways, pick one here, they're great!

Scroll down to get the several recipes in the printable card below.

The Most Popular Utica Greens Invented by Joe Morelle

This dish was popularized by Joe Morelle in the late 1980s at the Chesterfield Restaurant in Utica, N.Y., where it is on the menu as greens Morelle.

Mr. Morelle being a chef at the Grimaldi's Restaurant (now closed) observed a chef making greens, they were only served as an occasional special.

Then he started at the Chesterfield's in 1988. He then tweaked those greens and put it on the menu as a regular appetizer.

His greens were an immediate hit and became famous quickly.

He later quit the restaurant business to work as a postman. He only made greens by request, in huge trays for weddings, birthdays, and holidays.

Mr. Morelle passed away in 2017 and will be forever known for these greens in Utica, New York but we will keep his memory alive in our kitchens with his recipe for these delicious greens.

Versions for Greens

  • Plain sauteed in garlic
  • Greens with meat and potatoes
  • Greens with Cheese
  • Greens Morelle

Basic Ingredients to Make Utica Greens Recipe

  • escarole cored and coarsely chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • dried hot red pepper flakes
  • Italian Flavored Bread Crumbs
  • Pecorino Romano cheese grated


  1. Boiling them first is an important step, it kills bacteria, get all the dirt out and bugs and makes them melt in your mouth tender
  2. Do not over brown garlic it should be a golden brown, remove it and add it back later after you flavor the oil
  3. Dressed greens are a version that can be adapted with more or fewer ingredients, IE hot peppers instead of sweet bell and prosciutto along with hot capicola
  4. Greens last around 2 days in the refrigerator when mixed with other ingredients
  5. Escarole boiled can be frozen and used for any of these recipes

Other Additions to Add

  • Italian hot or sweet sausage
  • Italian hot peppers, cherry peppers, assorted colors of pepper
  • Potatoes,
  • Mozzarella melted cheese on top
  • Utica grind red pepper flakes on top or freshly cracked black pepper
  • Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil when greens are just sauteed with Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Hot Capicola
  • Any other kind of ham you prefer
  • Proscuitto
  • For vegetarians add artichokes hearts, fresh spinach leaves, chopped Roma tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower florets steamed

Try Some Other Famous Utica Recipes

Chicken Riggies

St. Joseph's Day Pastry

N.Y. Bagels

Half Moons

Utica, N.Y. Greens Pin for later

A Delicious Side Dish or Full Meal

A great side dish and so healthy for you is our Italian Sauteed Escarole with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and a little heat version, simple to make and delicious

I make three different versions here is just one of them.

Scroll through the recipes and get a little taste of Utica, N.Y. greens the recipes are all easy.

Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe

Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe

Yield: 6
Prep time: 10 MCook time: 35 MTotal time: 45 M
These are famous greens made with escarole in the Utican New York area. Many local families make them and on the menus in several restaurants. Greens can be plain and sauteed in garlic or dressed to the nines adding sausage, peppers and potatoes to them. There are many versions here in the recipe card to choose from.


  • Italian style Greens are famous in Upstate Utica New York and Rome New York areas.
  •  Here are adapted recipes below found in several favorite Restaurants and are copycats of what we have tasted through the years.
  • There are 3 versions below to chose from and easy to make using escarole which was a staple in our home growing up in the 1960s in our Italian home living in East Utica.


  1. First Version
  2. 4 lb escarole (about 4 heads), cored and coarsely chopped
  3. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  4. 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  6. Italian Flavored Bread Crumbs
  7. Locatelli cheese grated
  8. Wash escarole in a sinkful of hot water, lift to drain. 
  9. Cook in a heavy pot full of boiling salted water for 30 minutes, drain.
  10. Heat oil in the same pot over medium heat, saute garlic and red pepper flakes with oil for around 1 minute. 
  11. Add escarole, stirring to coat evenly with oil.
  12.  Place on low heat and saute until tender around 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more red pepper flakes if you love it hot! 
  13. Spoon onto a large platter and drizzle with a good grade extra virgin olive oil, 
  14. Italian flavored bread crumbs, and Locatelli cheese grated or shredded mozzarella.
  15. Second Version
  16. (This version is found in most Central NY Utica/Rome areas)
  17. 1 large escarole (or 2 small heads)
  18. 4 slices prosciutto-thin slices, chopped
  19. 2 garlic cloves minced
  20. 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  21. 2 long Italian hot peppers, seeded & julienned
  22. 1/2 cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs
  23. 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated cheese
  24. 1/2 cup chicken broth
  25. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper black pepper and the pinch of salt
  26. Follow directions above except saute the garlic, peppers in oil with prosciutto first, add cooked escarole with spices, add broth, top with cheese and breadcrumbs at the end.
  27. Third Version A Version of Greens Morelle
  28. Utica Greens All Dressed Up
  29. (a whole meal in itself!)
  30. Cut and peel 4 potatoes into 1-inch chunks and fry until golden brown and crisp, set aside.
  31. 2 lbs of link Italian sausage cut in small pieces and fried, set aside.
  32. 6 slices of prosciutto, ham, or capicola ( Italian hot ham).
  33. Boil 2 heads of Escarole a little saltwater, slowly in a large pot simmer for 30 minutes.
  34. Drain and do the same procedure above to extract water.
  35. In a large frying pan: add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil boiled drained greens
  36. 2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic
  37. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  38. 1 jar of roasted peppers or use homemade  roasted peppers,  you can also use sweet cherry peppers  or long hot peppers cut into strips
  39. 1/2 cup chicken broth, at the end
  40. optional chopped tomatoes
  41. In a large frying pan add oil saute; peppers and ham, add all spices. Add potatoes, sausage, and ham mix greens in stir, add the broth.
  42. Garnish: 1 cup shredded blend of provolone and mozzarella
  43. 1/2 cup of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  44. 3/4 cup Locatelli or Parmesan grated cheese
  45. salt and pepper to taste
  46. Add topping to greens mixture.
  47. Place in a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with cheeses and flavored bread crumbs on top. 
  48. Broil until cheese melts.
escarole recipes, Utica New York Greens recipes, favorite escarole recipes, greens recipe, Utica Greens Recipes
escarole recipes, greens recipes, healthy recipes
Italian, American
Created using The Recipes Generator

Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe Pin for later

Oldie Video on YouTube

Family Favorite Recipes We Love

Traditional Sunday Tomato Sauce

15 Pasta Dishes

20 Bean Recipes

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2010. It was edited and re-published in 2020.


  1. I've never cooked with escarole before and you make it look so good!

  2. every dish looks delicious!i don't understand what is escarole...a type of endive?

  3. I've never cooked with escarole either. I love kale and spinach, ao I bet I'd like this. Healthy too. I'll have to give this a try.

  4. Great uses of escarole. I often use it in soups. You have introduced me to some new ideas.


  5. I wish I could say I love escarole - I tried to but it's just a little too bitter for me. I use kale and spinach instead. But that dish loaded with goodies sure looks fantastic!

  6. What is your connection to Utica? I'm from 45 minutes away and know all about Utica greens and its renowned iItalian meats! Great post - you don't see much of upstate/central NY on here!

  7. greens, garlic and cheese?! SOLD. Sounds like a fabulous dish. I have never tried escarole, but I am a big kale fan. I'm going to have to try this!

  8. I always see Escarole at the store and just thought it was for salad, didn't know it could be cooked into such a yummy dish. I love all your suggestions for additional ingredients to add add to it, great recipe.

  9. All three versions are a huge comfort food for me! My grandma and mother prepared escarole similar to #2. Now I just know I'll be wishing for them after reading this post! ♥ 2 U my friend, and thanks for the flashback.

  10. Hmmm love saute greens! and this escarole looks something I could eat every day...even for breakfast! and I am not kidding! hope you're having fun in NY!

  11. Is it bad that I've never had escarole before? I think I need to try it, it looks right up my alley.

  12. Hmmm.. escarole... it seems every day on a different blogger's page I find a new ingredient that I have never tried before! Excellent inspiration! :)

  13. I have never eaten escarole before . What is it? :)

  14. I love taking bitter escarole and sweetening it with braising and then adding your heat and garlic. Your entire spread is a beaity.

  15. wow, I would like to sit and compare all three - and eat all three - I know each would be equally fine

  16. Oh, this post brings me back! My aunt Mary (born in Italy) loved to use escarole in the same ways you describe - soups, especially but also fried up with garlic. Thank you for reminding me. You have great recipes here. Next trip to the green grocers, I'm buying a lovely, healthy, green bunch of it!

  17. I don't think I've cooked escarole before I do cook a lot of kale. Is it similar? Anyway, I'm pretty sure I would love escarole - you make it look so good!

  18. Claud, this is delicious. Absolutely beautiful recipe.

  19. Had this at Lascas in Auburn this weekend...Fantastic! It was version "second". Can't wait to try it. Thanks

  20. I am soo excited to have stumbled onto your blog. I live in GA but, am from Rome NY. Your spice cookie is the exact same recipe that my grandmother gave me. I use to have one for pink cherry cookies. Do you have one?

  21. Hi Rachael, thank you, my husband is from Rome NY! such a coincidence :) the recipe I have is made with marachino cherry juice and pinole nuts....if you would like that one email me ...the address is on the blog...thanks will be happy to send to you it was my Aunts who has long since passed...

  22. I also make escarole quite often. Love it in its broth with salt and sauteed garlic, Like a soup to dunk bread in it.

  23. My recommendations if in the area: The Franklin Hotel in Rome. My wife's bringing me their greens tonight, dee-lish. In Utica, it's little out of the way, but Chesterfields make some excellent greens.

  24. I lived in Oneida NY for twenty years and never had Utica Greens until last month. GREAT! I have lived in the south of Georgia for the past twenty five years and never had Shrimp and Grits until last month. GREAT! Go

  25. Have lived in the Utica area all my life until 4 years ago. My mom and grandmother used to cook escarole greens all the time, my favorite being greens and beans.
    We used to eat the fried greens in sandwiches on Saturdays for lunch!!! Thanks for the "greens" recipe!!!!!

  26. I have no excuse not to try escarole now..all your recipes look wonderful, Claudia!

  27. Awesome! my husband grew up in Westmoreland and when made these - he said it was a taste of home. I make them often now. Thanks for the recipe!

  28. I've never eaten escarole but this post makes me want to.

  29. Ha! Commented 6 years ago and had forgotten about this wonderful recipe! Hope to try it soon!!!

  30. This sounds fantastic. I have never tried escarole, but that is going to change!

  31. i love sautéed greens! These greens look so flavorful and good!

  32. Yep! Gotta have my greens and I'm always looking for original recipes to change things up. This sounds really good, now I have to get me some escarole.

  33. Oh wow. I've been looking for a great way to cook escarole and now I've found it. This looks amazing! I can't wait to give it a try!

  34. Grew up in Rome. Greens were a staple. Fondly remember late night steak and greens at The Hollywood. Still make them regularly. Wonderful!

  35. I like escarole sauteed with lots of garlic in butter :-))

  36. This would be a hit in the South too, Claudia, where people really love their 'greens'. Healthy for us that's for sure! Thanks!

  37. beans and greens with escarole is excellent too.

  38. I had this delicious dish a few years ago in a restaurant while visiting my hometown of Buffalo, NY, a city with many good Italian restaurants and cooks, but I had never seen this dish before. It’s likely that the restaurant owner grew up in the Utica area and brought this recipe with him when he opened his place in Buffalo -- only his dish used spinach instead of escarole. Today I was craving this dish and trying to figure out how to make it when I found your blog. Thank you for posting about the history of Italian cooks in Utica and recipe for this dish. I am looking forward to trying all the versions and am heading to the market for escarole right now!


Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia