Oct 9, 2010

Pizza di Scarola rustic pie recipe

Originally a Christmas dish, this savory Neapolitan vegetable pie is an Italian mealtime classic. In the Napoli hometown, the stuffed pie crust has a hint of sweetness and needs yeast and lard. I use regular bread dough for a lighter outcome. It's a different way of eating greens, puts smiles on children's faces and gratifies your taste buds with a piquant filling surprise.

Image © giallozafferano.it

For the crust:
500 g (2 1/2 cups) flour
125 ml (1/2 cup) milk
60 g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
125 ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm water
12 g (1 tsp) active dry, or brewer's yeast
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
40 g (2 tbps) extra virgin olive oil
1 egg yolk stirred with a little milk for brushing

For the filling:
1 large or 2 medium heads of escarole (broad-leaved endive) washed and chopped
A fistful of Gaeta olives (or small purple Kalamata olives) pitted
A pinch of salted capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 spicy red peperoncino
1 oil-packed anchovy (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil

To make the crust, first melt the yeast in a small vessel with the milk, lukewarm water, very little salt and a tsp of sugar.

Now place the flour in a large mixing bowl with the softened butter, olive oil and incorporate the yeasty blend. Mix well with a wooden spoon to obtain a moist ball, pouring the lukewarm water in slowly.

Turn the oily dough onto a clean surface, and knead briefly, just until it becomes smoother, about a minute. Cut the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap each piece in plastic, and let rest in a warm place, for about 2 hours. The dough pieces will double in volume.

Preheat oven at 180° C (350° F).

Boil the chopped escarole for 2 minutes in plenty of water. Drain and wring away excess water.

Meanwhile, lightly film a large pan with olive oil, and heat over medium-high. Brown the garlic and peperoncino to release their flavors, and discard when the garlic begins to brown. According to your taste you can decide to leave in the peperoncino. The original recipe calls for an added oil-preserved anchovy too, you're free to omit it but it does give the whole recipe a punch without ever noticing the actual anchovy flavor.

Sauté the parboiled escarole for 5 minutes in the flavored olive oil with the pitted olives, capers and a pinch of salt. Let it cool 10 minutes before the next step.

Roll the two dough disks or squares out; given the greasiness of the dough, no flour is needed, but just in case, you can line your baking pan with some parchment paper.

The larger dough piece should be bigger than your 9-inch pie shell. Drape the larger rolled dough over the lined pie shell leaving some overhang all around.

Fill with the cooked greens and cover with the second dough piece.

Trim away a little of the excess dough, crimp the edge all the way around to seal the pie, and cut 4 small slits in the top, or pierce the surface with the tines of a fork.

Brush the surface with some egg wash and bake 20-30 minutes (depending on oven vigor).

Let the pie rest on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before serving.

Cut generous slices and serve paired with the rest of your meal, generously washed down by big Aglianico wine. Otherwise you can enjoy it cold the next day, with a chilled beer.


  1. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to find this recipe on your blog. It is my all-time favorite and I have never seen it anywhere, but hand-written by my mother. I cook 8heads of escarole for my large Christmas pie and it takes approx. 8 hours of simmering. I can see your eyes widen. My ingredients are similar with a few additions. I would love for you to read my recipe and story. It can be found on cucinananette.blogspot.com entitled: Another 30 years. I will be reading your blog for other wonderful recipes. Thanks. Ciao

  2. i am enthralled by the crust. olive oil? i can't wait to try this.

    i wish i had a week to do nothing but make your recipes. i love your blog. when the holidays come around this year, i am going to linger in your archives, choosing recipes.

    with love ♥

  3. Well, Ele, I guess my mother made the "other" version of this recipe. We would always have Spinach Pie on Good Friday-and I have no idea why.

    1 pkg/lb Frozen Bread dough-defrosted

    3 packages of frozen chopped Spinach, cooked and drained and squeezed very well

    Pit free Black olives, cut up into rings


    Grated Cheese

    Garlic Salt

    Olive Oil

    And for a little zip: chopped Anchovies!

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix squeezed spinach, black olives, capers, grated cheese garlic, some olive oil and smashed anchovies together in a bowl.

    Split dough into a larger ball (the bottom) and a smaller ball (the top).

    Stretch larger ball so it fits the bottom and up the sides of the 8x8" pan

    Pour in the spinach mixture. Spread evenly.

    Stretch small dough ball to make cover and seal with water. Prick a few holes in the top.

    Cook until the dough sounds hollow when you tap it.

    Eat......and enjoy--and as you can tell you are free to adjust the amounts to taste.

  4. Do you have an artichoke pie in your repertoire?

    I do.


  5. mmm...bet the olives add a nice flavor to this...

  6. It sounds delicious dear lola. I would love to sit at a table and share this with you and little e. I'm thinking of you and wishing you all the love and happiness in the world.


  7. I really love pizza. This looks very delicious to me,I’m going to try this one.Hoping to learn more from you.Thanks=)

  8. This looks delicious, and vegetarian, too! I am seriously going to try it, or a version of it due to lack of escarole/endive! Any suggestions for a substitute for your escarole to make a non-traditional slightly modified African version?

  9. That looks DELICIOUS!! You always make me hungry!! Happy Weekend! Love, Silke

  10. This is new to me! Sounds scrumptious!

  11. Nanette~
    thank you so much! I'll definitely swing by and taste your version.


    Everyone should take some time off to cook, it's a healthy habit!


    I omit anchovies and pine nuts, purposefully! But you don't sauté in garlic first? No artichoke pie... do share!

    shall I cut you a large slice? ;)


    they do, everytime you bite into one of them, your tastebuds have a party.


    I think of you all the time. How I wish this meal together would come true... We love you.




    This isn't your ordinary pizza pie, it's something a little different, but I'm sure you'll love it!


    You can substitute escarole with any mild green chicory, radicchio, dandelion greens, borage, mustard greens or curly endive. Worse comes to worse, spinach! ;)
    Glad you like this.


    Have a great weekend too, and thank you so much for your sweet words.


    This is a southern Italian must, I'm surprised you're not familiar with it. But perhaps it is indeed very Neapolitan e basta.
    Hugs to you buon fine settimana.

  12. Thank you this brings brings back happy memories of my first Neapolitan Christmas .

  13. Celia~
    I'm happy this brought you to a beautiful plae in your memory.

  14. E-

    I'll be needing a new camera soon- Can you tell me which one you have to take such fantastic photos?


  15. Roseann~
    I use a SONY compact DSC-T90. Besides good for food photography, it's perfect for the set too. The large touch-screen allows you to write notes on the photo! So you can mark each photo w/ scene number, slate etc. And it also has ridiculous amount of memory if you buy the bigger memorystick.

  16. wow eleanora - from chocolate pasta with chocolate filling and chococaviar to escarole pie. you do get around!
    the greens pie reminds me of regional spanakopita using whatever greens are growing in your region on the hillsides in Greece.

    I too look forward to your holiday recipes for a nice change.

  17. Deborah~
    thank you for your kind visit. Yes, it does resemble spanakopita, you're right. Mediterranean basin is such a enclosed area that it doesn't surprise me.
    Holiday foods coming up! Did you check my archive for last year's entries?


  18. I remember my folks making a sweet version of this pie for Christmas when I was a child. The escarole was cooked down with dried figs, walnuts, and apples as I recall. Anyone know this version? I'd love to try and make it myself but would only be guessing at the quantities.

    Rosa in Wisconsin

  19. Rosa~
    thank you for leaving your comment. I have never heard of the sweet Chrstmas version you mentioned. Do you have Italian ancestry? What region? Maybe we can figure out where this rendition came from...

    In the meantime, happy holidays!