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Greens and Potatoes

Manaste Patano

SERVES 4 TO 6

My mother tells the story of how her mother in early spring gathered bitter, wild endive (cicoria) and dandelions in her apron. She boiled them until tender, then tossed them into boiling chicken or beef broth, along with some potatoes. It was a very satisfying peasant dish, and for my grandmother, the greens were a gift from nature.

The combination of greens and potatoes has remained for me a culinary example of simplicity and frugality in the kitchen. The potatoes in this dish were lumpy, mashed with a fork, because Grandma had a weakness in her arm that sapped her strength. She always served them with meat drippings that she had saved, but I have left it out because of today's health consciousness.

Ingredients

1 pound escarole, dandelion greens, or chicory, washed

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter plus 1 teaspoon

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Salt to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the greens, and boil rapidly for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the greens are wilted and tender. Drain the greens in a colander, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking water.

With the back of a spoon, press as much water as possible out of the greens and place them on a cutting board. With a knife, coarsely chop the greens into 1- to 2-inch pieces and place in a bowl.

Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water, and boil until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes well and place in a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and the milk, and mash with a potato masher or an electric mixer until smooth (or leave them slightly lumpy). If the potatoes are too dry, add 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. With a spoon, mix in half the cheese and the salt and pepper. Add the chopped greens and combine.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with the 1 teaspoon butter, and spread the potato mixture in the pan. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and drizzle it over the top, then sprinkle on the remaining cheese and bake until hot, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Comments

  1. Carol Barletta's avatar

    Carol Barletta

    I just picked a big bag of chicory yesterday ( People look at you funny when you're doing this.) I am going to try this recipe. I usually use them for salad or I add cannellini beans to cooked chicory. My neighbor makes the chicory with the fava bean paste.

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