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Scarola imbottita

Stuffed Escarole Baked in the Oven


  • 2 2 large heads escarole or 4 small ones, if you can find them
  • 1-2 cloves garlic left whole and unpeeled
  • Olive oil

For the stuffing

  • 100g 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • A handful of black olives roughly chopped
  • A handful of capers rinsed
  • A few anchovy filets chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley minced

For baking

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil


Prepping the escarole

  • Remove any bruised outer leaves from the escarole. Trim off any discoloration from the stem but take care not to remove it as you want the escarole to remain intact. Wash the escarole and let it dry off. 
  • If you're dealing with a large escarole head, as you probably will be, you can cut it in half lengthwise, starting from the stem. Again, make sure the stem remains attached to the leaves.

Braising the escarole

  • In a large sauté pan large enough to hold all the escarole in one layer, gently heat the olive oil and add the garlic clove. When you begin the smell the garlic's aroma, nestle the escarole in the pan, sprinkle with salt and cover. Let the escarole braise very gently, turning once, for about 20 minutes, until wilted.
  • Let the escarole cool completely, then gently squeeze each head (or half head) and pat dry with paper towels. 

Making the filling

  • While the escarole is braising, prepare the filling: Heat a good pour of olive oil in a skillet, then add the garlic. When they just begin to brown and give off their aroma, add the breadcrumbs and gently sauté them until they take on a nutty brown color. Then add the other ingredients and given everything a good turn. Turn off the heat after about another minute. 

Assembling and baking

  • Take each head of escarole (or half) and gingerly open it, cut side up, spreading the leaves our flat. Divide the filling among the escarole, leaving some margins on all sides. 
  • Then you have a choice: You can either re-form the escarole into its original shape—a good choice if you're using individual small heads of escarole—which is the classic method. But if you're dealing with half heads, it's easier to roll the escarole up lengthwise, starting from the stems. 
  • Place the escarole in a baking dish. Sprinkle with more breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a hot (200C/400F) oven until they are heated through and have taken on a nice color, about a half hour.
    Serve your scarola imbottita still warm but not scaling hot as a side dish or light main.