Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spaghetti with Escarole

A few years ago, a customer described to me his favorite way to use escarole, which he called simply "Spaghetti and escarole."  I am embarrassed to admit that I did not hold his produce hostage and force him to write down the recipe on the spot, but it sounded so delicious that it hasn't left my mind since.  This year's crop is by far the best I've ever grown (and in very hot and dry conditions, too!), and the first thing I wanted to try to make with it was, of course, spaghetti and escarole.  A quick search through cookbooks and yielded dozens of recipes, so this one is, more than anything, a reflection of what I had in my pantry at this particular time.  Feel free to make substitutions; many recipes I saw used bacon or pancetta in place of the anchovies, and the one I actually most wanted to make used short, tubular pasta and added a can of white beans... next time!

adapted from Bon Appetit magazine via

serves 4 generously

4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large head escarole, washed and cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup water

salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the anchovies and red pepper; stir for 1 minute. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the escarole. Add 1 cup of water, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the escarole is tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

Add the pasta to the escarole mixture and stir over low heat to combine, adding the cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Divide the pasta among shallow bowls, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

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