Utica Greens Recipe

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This is a traditional dish from Upstate New York, Utica Greens.

It is a signature side dish for the Italian-Americans who live in Utica, and is commonly found in restaurants all over the area.  There is even an annual Utica Greens Fest in Utica every fall, which features lots of food and art.

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There are many different ways to make it, but it traditionally includes escarole, hot cherry peppers and garlic.

escarole on a counter top

So when my CSA box included a huge head of escarole it was the obvious thing to make!  I used prosciutto to flavor it, although you could substitute bacon, pancetta, or even add in a bunch of Italian sausage and make it more of a main dish than a side.

Hot cherry peppers are an ingredient that I don’t use all the time, but when you need them there is no substitute! The peppers are crunchy and very spicy, and are also great for using on a sandwich.

I used five of the hot peppers in this dish because my kids don’t like it too spicy, but I think it tastes better with even more. However my kids will actually have seconds of Utica greens, which is pretty much unheard of for any dish involving greens, so I make it the way they like it!

adding escarole and cherry peppers to the Utica Greens

The dish is topped off with breadcrumbs and cheese, and broiled to melt the cheese and crisp up the breadcrumbs. The resulting dish is very spicy and makes a fantastic side dish to accompany dinner.

A skillet filled with spinach and ham.

It is so fun to cook traditional favorites dishes like this that have been passed down for generations! Do you have any favorite ways to serve greens?

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4.63 from 105 votes

Utica Greens

Published By Anne
This is a traditional dish from Upstate New York, Utica Greens.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings: 6
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  • 1 head escarole
  • 3 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup prosciutto diced
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 hot pickled cherry peppers chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese grated


  • Rinse the escarole and chop into small pieces.
  • Bring salted water to a boil and blanch the escarole for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the proscuitto and onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the drained escarole, cherry peppers and water. Stir it all together and add a little salt and pepper if desired.
  • Cook until the escarole is wilted, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and cheese, and stick under the broiler for 2 minutes to brown the top.



Nutrition facts are estimates.

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Nutrition Information

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 116mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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A skillet full of vegetables and cheese on a wooden table.
Utica greens in a skillet with ham and cheese.

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

45 thoughts on “Utica Greens Recipe”

  1. I grew up just outside of Utica and have never made this recipe. Mea culpa! I’ll have to get busy and try it. Thanks for posting!

  2. 5 stars
    I have made this several times (the first time in Clinton, NY) Most recently used Peppadew peppers in stead of the usual cherry peppers, came out quite good!

  3. 5 stars
    I never blanch the greens, they end up losing the texture. Just cook them down slightly with the onions, prosciutto, hot peppers and add garlic at the end. Then add the rest of the ingredients. I feel this is a better way.

  4. My family loves Utica greens since we live not too far from Utica I need to write this down and surprise them during the holidays. Of course they will say there great but I know they will never tasre as good as Utica greens. I just have to try.

  5. I planted a ton of beets this year. I was looking for ways to utilize the greens when I found out that they are good substitute for escarole. Your recipe turned out perfect. You need a ton of beet greens to equal a head of escarole just in case anybody wants to replicate this. Thank you!

  6. We lived in Utica for ten years. Two of my daughters still live there. Love them and making them tonight. Going to put on top of some fresh cod fish!

  7. Oh! Thank you soooo much! Can’t believe that I found this recipe!
    We lived around Utica some 20 years ago and we loved village green from one Italian restaurant. Can’t remember its name now. It took me 20 years to realise that there is actually escarole in Germany!!
    Thank you soooo much!

  8. We live in Watertown and always look for good Utica Greens. When we order them out they are often too bready. This is a perfect mix. We did 6 hot cherry peppers based on your comment about needing more spice and I used chicken broth instead of water because I had an open box. Delicious and so much better than my first attempt at Utica Greens.

  9. This recipe has become a staple for my family for almost 5 years. They are absolutely AMAZING. I struggled to make them a lot in Alabama because they did not regularly carry escarole. I asked the guy in producer for it and he said “esca.. who?”. Haha I’m in Florida now thankfully and I get to make them all the time! We love these so much!

  10. Hello Anne,
    We love Utica Greens! We have had at least one version that we did not care for. The greens has too much bred crumbs for our taste.
    Aiello’s restaurant in Whitney Point NY is among our favorites. We want to try to bake a calzone stuffed with Utica Greens.


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