A Christmas Escarole: Two Recipes from the Chef Lorenzo Sirabella
Anyone born in Campania (a region in the South of Italy)—or anyone lucky enough to secure an invite to a Christmas Eve "cenone" (big dinner) by friends from Naples or the neighboring areas—has certainly come across a dish that’s more than a tradition, it represents an institution: escarole!
This type of salad—usually accompanied by anchovies, garlic, capers and olives—is cooked in a pan and can be served as an appetizer, side dish or used as a filling for the famous escarole pizza, a typical Christmas savory pie cooked in the "ruoto" (the round baking tray).
The widespread use of escarole during the Christmas period derives from the fact that this variety of salad abounds in the Campania countryside during the winter period. Escarole is a vegetable rich in vitamins and minerals, with a slightly bitter flavor and a crunchy texture. The outer leaves are usually cooked with the above-mentioned ingredients, while the more central ones are used in the days following the holidays to prepare the so-called "reinforcement" salad, with the leftovers.
Campanian chef Lorenzo Sirabella—one of the most important names in the Italian pizza scene who runs Dry Milano—shared his personal interpretation of the escarole pizza recipe, transformed into a tasty calzone.
Following his recipe you can prepare your own calzone or pizza with escarole and cod at home. To make a pizza, simply roll out the dough and top with the calzone seasonings and thin slices of raw cod, which will cook in 60–90 seconds in the Ooni oven.
This pizza designed by chef Sirabella draws inspiration from a recipe by the famous Campanian chef Ippolito Cavalcanti, cited in the essay "Theoretical-Practical Cuisine" of 1837. Sirabella recommends cooking it in the Ooni oven at 850 °F for about a minute and a half, rotating 3 or 4 times for even cooking.
And now that we have these two irresistible recipes, all we have to do is count down with the Advent calendar to find out how many days remain until the arrival... of the escarole pizza.