Grandma’s Sweet Savory Spicy Escarole for Escarole Pie

Grandma Roses’s Sweet Savory Spicy Escarole for Escarole Pie

BBaron Grandma's Sweet Savory Spicey Escarole

Escarole is a hearty green leafy vegetable. High in folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K, and minerals like manganese, copper and potassium. Escarole can

be eaten raw or cooked.  Serve as first dish –escarole and cannellini bean soup or raw in salads. Growing up in my Italian family this was our “iceberg” (lettuce)! 

And every Christmas, I looked forward to enjoying Grandma’s Escarole Pie!

Here is the recipe for the filling to enjoy all year– so delicious you don’t need the pie crust! 

Ingredients for the Filling:

Escarole,  five large bunches or 3-pounds. Cut the top green part and cut into two inch pieces. Save the really white bottom part of the escarole for salad.

Garlic, 3-5 medium cloves, minced. (or 1 small clove per per bunch)

Anchovies, flat fillets, one 2-ounce can for 5 to 6 pounds of escarole ( you can use 6-fillets or half a can for 3 pounds)

Olive Oil, ¼ cup

Spanish Green Olives, plain, pitted, sliced ¾ cup – OR -I prefer for extra spice buy the Cracked Green Olives marinated in red-pepper flakes and oil, remove pits, and slice into large pieces ( I buy these in the Italian Salumeria)

Capers, 2 teaspoons, (optional) I leave it out because the anchovies and olives contribute more than enough to the sodium/salty taste)

Pignoli nuts, ½ cup (the more you add the more you find)

Raisins, ¼- ½ cup -or two 2-ounce boxes (the small raisin boxes)

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes,  1/4 teaspoon or to your taste. (no need to add too much more if using the cracked green olives with red pepper flakes, taste first and if you like it spicier sprinkle in 1/8 tsp)


Cutting board, sharp knife, one large bowl, large skillet, colander, measuring cups.


Place green leaves of the escarole in pot with 1- cup of water over high heat and steam until wilted. Drain vegetable in colander — press vegetable with spoon to squeeze out excess water while still in colander. Place warm escarole (so easier to handle) in a large bowl. Add garlic, anchovies, and olive oil and mix. Fold in green olives, Pignoli nuts, and raisins, And add the crushed red pepper flakes and capers as needed to taste.

The dough recipe for the “Escarole Pie”:  Grandma’s original crust* recipe is below.  Traditionally it is made on top of the stove and is more time consuming.  so here is an alternate solution for  busy cook’s. Simply use a ready-made savory pie crust or dough, and follow the package directions.  Spoon the escarole filling into the pan lined with the dough. Cover the top with another layer of dough. Crimp the edges. Beat an egg in a separate dish.  Take a  pastry brush and lightly “paint” a thin layer of the egg over the top of the dough. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.    —–Another option without frying, is to use roll out pizza dough. Place filling on one side, and fold the other half over like half-moon (similar to a calzone). Crimp edges and bake in oven until golden brown.

Step by Step Photos Using My Grandmother’s Crust*  (see below for recipe):

1. Roll out the crust and carefully line in on the bottom of a greased 9-10 inch frying pan or skillet that is about 1-2 inches deep – I prefer using a nonstick pan so crust doesn’t crumble( grease pan with lard or a drop of vegetable oil) . Spoon mixed filling onto the bottom crust that is in the non-stick pan!
2. Roll out top crust and tuck sides over. Cut off excess dough so it is not too thick.
3. After cooking one side. About 30 minutes on medium heat. Then Turn off heat and let pan cool so you can flip the pie over onto a plate with the uncooked side facing up (sorry no photo, yet). Now Flip the uncooked side back into the bottom of the lightly greased pan to cook that side for another 30 minutes. Until Golden Brown.
5. Ready to serve! On Christmas Eve, In years past, when my grandmother and mother were living, they served it at the end of the meal before fruit and nuts, probably because of the sweet hint of flavor from the raisins! This year, l set a new tradition and served it as an appetizer with the Fish Salad when we weren’t too full to enjoy it.


My Grandmother’s Original Crust* Recipe:  Side-note: The crust recipe below contains lard making it high in saturated fat. We only make and eat this pie once a year.  Moderation prevails! I would make the filling anytime of year!

The Ingredients below will make one bottom layer, therefore repeat for the same measured ingredients for the second or top layer.  It is best to make the bottom and top layer one at a time because the dough is easier to roll out when when warm.

Flour, All Purpose 2 1/2- cups flour

Salt 1/8 teaspoon (optional)

Pepper, 1/8-1/4 teaspoon

Lard, melted 1/2 cup +2 Tablespoons

Water, boiled 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons

Skillet, 10 inches  that is about 1-inch deep

Add Salt and Pepper to flour and mix so it is evenly distributed. Gradually mix in melted lard to the flour with a spoon, creating small pebbles, and add in hot water mixing with a spoon to create a dough. Start to mix fold all ingredients with your hands to make a dough and roll out quickly and evenly  to 1/4 inch think with a rolling pin while the dough is still warm.  Grease the bottom of skillet pan with  about  1 -2 teaspoons lard ( I like to use a non-stick pan so you use less lard). and place the rolled dough on the bottom of the pan with sides hanging over the edge. Spoon the escarole filling onto the dough in the pan.

Repeat the recipe and instructions for the crust above to create the top layer. This time place the top layer on top of the escarole mixture.  Tuck and fold in the edges of the bottom dough  onto the top layer of dough about 1/2  to 1 inch in. Trim off any excess dough so it is not too thick where the bottom and top layers meet.  Smooth the two layers together.

Place pan on stove and start frying in the greased pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Slightly turning the pie clockwise so it doesn’t stick to the bottom or side of the pan. It should take about 25-30 -minutes.  Turn off the gas and wait until pie and pan is cool to touch.  Then flip the pie over on a dish. Grease the pan again with about  1-2-teaspoons of lard.  Carefully slide in uncooked side of the pie crust onto the bottom of the pan. Cook this  side for  25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let pie and pan cool. Then carefully flip pie onto dish.  Serve. You can make ahead. Simply wrap in plastic wrap or foil and place in refrigerator. Before serving place on a baking sheet covered with foil or parchment paper for easier clean up. Heat in oven at 350 about 20 minutes. Serve Warm.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Claudine Eckhart says:

    Fr Joe sent me the link to the escarole pie. I can’t wait to try it.
    Thank you

    1. Barbara Baron says:

      Enjoy! The filling is easy, the crust tricky, but you are experienced in the kitchen:)

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