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.
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Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe Pin for later

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