Mama Said Eat Your Greens: Pasta with Escarole

Escarole doesn't get enough love. It looks like a giant head of slightly mutant butter lettuce, but it's got a bitter, iron-y tang that is powerful enough raw to let you know that this green is very good for you. Nevertheless, cooking it tames its bitterness; it goes well with a slightly sweet sauce and roasted chicken.

Mama Said Eat Your Greens: Pasta with Escarole
Dave Lieberman

The simplest version of this recipe involves sautéed greens, plain boiled pasta and rotisserie chicken from a chicken joint (King Pollo in Anaheim is a favorite). You can up the ante as much as you want; roast your own chicken if you like, or make your own pasta.

1 1/2 lb. fettuccine
1 lb. escarole
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. chicken broth
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
3/4 c. grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

1. Boil a gallon of water with 1/3 cup of kosher salt.
2. Clean and shred the escarole.
3. Heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in a very large skillet.
4. Add the pepper flakes and garlic and stir until just barely fragrant; add the tomato paste and stir until it breaks down.
5. Add the chicken broth to thin the sauce.
6. Toss in the escarole, a little bit at a time, tossing to wilt.
7. Once all the escarole is cooked, add salt, pepper and the balsamic vinegar, and toss.
8. Boil the pasta until al dente.
9. Toss the escarole, pasta, chicken, and cheese with a quarter cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
10. Heat through, correcting the seasoning.
11. Add a dash of olive oil to complete the dish and serve hot.

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