Pasta with Escarole and Gremolata

Pasta with escarole is one of my very favorite pasta dishes. This week my CSA bag from La Nay Ferme, contained a beautiful bag of escarole (also called broad-leaved endive). I knew immediately what I would make with it. It was the freshest escarole I have ever eaten and made for an exceptional meal. This recipe came from my Aunt Jo, who told me it was one my Grandfather loved and made often. I adapted her recipe by adding chicken stock and topping the finished dish with a generous drizzle of gremolata. Whenever I make this delicious dish I am reminded of my daughter’s first experience with it when she was a toddler. One evening I made pasta and escarole and put some on her high chair tray. She tasted a bit and smiled. I turned away to get something and, the next time I looked at her, she had a fistful of spaghetti in each little hand and could not get it into her mouth fast enough. When she finished up what was on her tray she exclaimed, “I yike it! More, please!”

Pasta with Escarole and Gremolata
4 c. tightly packed escarole leaves, cleaned and torn (1 large head)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. cubed Parmesan cheese
1-3/4 – 2 c. chicken stock
1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 lb. spaghettini

Gremolata
1/2 c. packed flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
juice of half a lemon
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Fill a 6-quart stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. kosher salt, then add escarole and cook for 2 minutes until wilted. Use a slotted spoon to remove escarole, saving the water to boil the spaghettini. Add spaghettini and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside. Warm oil in a frying pan. Add garlic and sauté until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add escarole and stir to coat with oil and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Add cheese and take frying pan off the burner so cheese can gently melt. Add 1-3/4 c. stock and return to the burner on low heat. Gently cook about 4 minutes. Add pasta and stir. Cook for 5 minutes so the pasta can absorb the flavors. Season with 1/4 tsp. kosher salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining stock if it seems a little dry; you can add a bit of extra parmesan, too. While the pasta and escarole is simmering place gremolata ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is puréed. Place pasta and escarole in a serving bowl, then spoon gremolata over the pasta. Serves 6.

Fresh Escarole Leaves

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Pasta and Escarole with Gremolata

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