Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe

Monday, March 10, 2014
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 1980's 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.

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 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 way, pick one here, they're great!

These are sauteed escarole greens used as a side dish with steak

The Best 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.

It was an immediate hit.

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.

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.

Update: Mr. Morelle has passed away in 2017 and will be forever known for these greens in Utica, New York. R.I.P. Joe Morelle and thank you for this fabulous contribution to us. We will remember you always in when cooking Greens Morelle.

these are a famous sauteed escarole greens made famous by Joe Morelle

Famous Now Everywhere

Greens are now famous just about everywhere.

The list goes on and on how to spice them up, dress them up and adapt to whatever you like in them.

The best part is they go great with any meal.

potatoes with escarole sauteed with peppers, garlic and sausage called Utica Greens

Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe Pin for later

this is how to make escarole as a side dish sauteed


The greens are Escarole sauteed.

I love them dressed up with hot capicola, potatoes, peppers and melted cheese.

There are so many ways to make sauteed greens. Check out the many recipes below all of them are fabulous!

this is how to make greens Utica New York Style

Greens, Greens, and more Greens.

If you haven't visited the Utica/Rome area in Upstate NY, here's another specialty item on the menus up there.

They are noted for making the best greens around. Sauteed Escarole is very healthy, full of vitamins, and oh so good.

these are greens made with escarole sauteed with sausage, potatoes and peppers with ham and bread crumb topping on top of the stove with garlic and oil

Everyone Says They're The Best

Of course, the locals will tell you where to go to get the best, they are not all the same.

Many preferences, and then there are always the authentic versions, so while you're up there always ask someone where to get the best greens.

these are greens made with escarole sauteed with sausage, potatoes and peppers with ham and bread crumb topping on top of the stove with garlic and oil

Grandma Always Boiled Them First

This takes out all the dirt and kills any bacteria left on the escarole, that's why we boil ours.

You don't have to do this step if you're comfortable with how clean they are.

Oldie Video on YouTube

this is just a fresh bunch of greens called escarole in the raw

Change Them Up!

You can add sausage, Italian, peppers, potatoes, mozzarella cheese.

You can absolutely go crazy with greens.

Everywhere you go in the Utica/Rome area they make them different.

Obviously, some are better than others.

I love garlicky flavored greens, not just a hint of flavor, so I put more garlic in.

My kids love the above version with sausage, potatoes, prosciutto, peppers, topped with mozzarella melted and breadcrumbs.

these are greens made with escarole sauteed with sausage, potatoes and peppers with ham and bread crumb topping on top of the stove with garlic and oil

Watch my quick video clip on greens dressed up

A Delicious Side Dish or Full Meal

A great side dish and so healthy for you! Italian Sauteed Escarole with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and a little heat! These are so tender, sure to please green lovers!

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

Every restaurant makes these different. Some made with prosciutto, potatoes, peppers, the versions can go on and on.

If you make the basic recipe, you can add your heart's desire.

I love mine with mozzarella on top and bread crumbs and Joe's version, which is as close as I can get it without his recipe.

these are greens made with escarole sauteed with sausage, potatoes and peppers with ham and bread crumb topping on top of the stove with garlic and oil

Mom Used Escarole Often

Mom used Escarole in soups, with beans, and just plain sauteed, every time we got a plate of these they were gone in no time! We love greens of all kinds broccoli rabe is another favorite!

sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic in a fry pan

Try Some Other Famous Utica Recipes

Chicken Riggie Fest
Upstate NY Greens
Tomato Pie Upstate NY Style
Italian Lemon Ice
Watermelon Sorbet with Rum 
Pizza Fritte Feast Fried Dough
Italian Gravy or Sauce the big debate
Feast Upstate NY Style Sausage and Peppers Sandwich
Upstate NY Apple Pie
Pizza Dough
Cafe Almond Paste Cookie
Cannoli Stuffed French Toast
Zeppole St Joseph's Day
Cannoli Homemade

Sicilian Style Pizza
Upstate ROME New York Great Food Dining 
Meatballs Melted Provolone and Roasted Pepper Sandwich
Italian Rainbow Cookies
Italian Cream Cake

these are greens made with escarole sauteed with sausage, potatoes and peppers with ham and bread crumb topping on top of the stove with garlic and oil

utica greens, sauteed escarole, Utica, New York Specialty, greens, fried greens, boiled greens
Escarole, greens, healthy
Yield: 6
how to make Upstate New York Utica Greens

Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipes

prep time: 25 mins cook time: 45 mins total time: 70 mins
Escarole sauteed plain or combined with sausage and much more is a great Italian delicacy in Upstate New York.


These below are several versions of how to make Escarole.

The recipes are adapted from plain sauteed versions to those that are combined with several other ingredients.

Something for everyone to choose from.

These are a collection from Upstate New York Utica Rome Area.


4 lb escarole (about 4 heads), cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
Italian Flavored Bread Crumbs
Locatelli cheese grated
Wash escarole in a sinkful of hot water, lift to drain. Cook in a heavy pot full of boiling salted water for ten minutes, drain.
Heat oil in same pot over medium heat, saute garlic and red pepper flakes with oil around 1 minute. Add escarole, stirring to coat evenly with oil. 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! Spoon onto a large platter and drizzle with a good grade extra virgin olive oil, Italian flavored bread crumbs, and Locatelli cheese grated or shredded mozzarella. 

 Second Version

(This version found in most Upstate NY Utica/Rome areas)

1 large escarole (or 2 small heads)
4 slices prosciutto-thin slices, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 long Italian hot peppers, seeded & julienned
1/2 cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Locatelli or pecorino romano cheese grating cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper black pepper and the pinch of salt

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.

Third Version A Version of Greens Morelle

Utica Greens All Dressed Up  
(a whole meal in itself!) 

Cut and peel 4 potatoes into 1-inch chunks and fry until golden brown and crisp, set aside.

2 lbs of link Italian sausage cut in small pieces and fried, set aside.

6 slices of prosciutto, ham or capicola ( Italian hot ham).

Boil 2 heads of Escarole a little salt water, slowly in a large pot simmer for 1 hour, drain. Drain and do the same procedure above to extract water.

In a large frying pan: add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
cooked greens
2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 jar of roasted or fresh made, sweet or hot long Italian or even cherry peppers – sliced in strips your preference
1/2 cup chicken broth, at the end
optional chopped tomatoes
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.

Garnish: 1 cup shredded blend of provolone and mozzarella
½ cup of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
¼ cup Locatelli or Parmesan grating cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Add topping to greens mixture.
Place in a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with cheeses and flavored bread crumbs on top. Broil until cheese melts.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Italian Utica Greens Sauteed Escarole Recipe Pin for later

Don't Miss Trying My Half Moon Recipe!


  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!


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