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This traditional Neapolitan recipe is usually prepared at Christmas and New Year’s Eve time. In fact it is eaten at lunchtime on 24 and 31 December as in the evening people usually enjoy a rich dinner.
Endivem escarole is a kind of endive, in some regions it is also a kind of lettuce or chicory. In Naples and in Campania there are two kinds of Endivem escarole: the curly one which is used raw to prepare salads, also with other vegetables like boiled white cabbage, and seasoned with oil, garlic and lemon or vinegar, and the smooth one which is usually boiled in salted water and then sautéed with oil, garlic, anchovies, capers and black olives from Gaeta, it is used to prepare Endivem escarole savoury cakes, it can be baked in a capacious pan and then cut into triangular slices and served, or fried in semicircular calzone shaped portions. In both cases the ingredients are the following.
Ingredients for 6-8 people
For the dough:
9 hectograms of leavened dough
a cup of extra virgin olive oil
or: 600 g flour - a cup of extra virgin olive oil – 15 g salt – a teaspoon of sugar – brewer’s yeast (a cube) - 350 cl water
For the stuffing:
1, 5 kg washed smooth Endivem escarole
3 garlic cloves
1 glass of extra virgin olive oil
2 hectograms of stoned olives from Gaeta
1 hectogram of capers from Pantelleria without salt
two tablespoons full of pine nuts (220°C) toasted in the oven or in a pan with a trickle of oil
1 hectogram of raisins soaked in warm water
a handful of coarse salt
white pepper to taste
10 – 12 fillets of anchovies in oil
You can buy the dough at a baker’s shop. To prepare it: put the flour on a rolling board, make a hole in the centre and add the oil, the water, a cube of yeast, the sugar and the salt and mix well. Let the dough leaven in a warm room in a bowl covered with a dishcloth. Wash the Endivem escarole, put in a pan with little salted water (coarse salt) and boil for about 15 minutes. Finally strain and pour all the oil with the chopped garlic into a capacious pan. Let it brown on a high heat, remove the garlic, add the anchovy fillets and let them dissolve in hot oil, then add the stoned olives and the capers. After two minutes add the pine nuts and the raisins and finally the Endivem escarole. Season with salt and pepper, put the lid on, lower the heat and finish cooking mixing (**). Let cool and grease the baking-pan with oil. Divide the leavened dough into two different parts and use the biggest one for the base, covering the bottom and the rim of the pan, add the Endivem escarole and cover with a disk obtained from the remaining dough. Let leaven for further one hour in a warm and dry room and bake at 200°C for 30 minutes. (*) When the cake is fully cooked, take it out of the oven and let it become slightly warm before cutting it into slices and serving it.
(*) If you buy the dough at a baker’s shop mix it with a cup of extra virgin olive oil.
(**) It is fully cooked when water or oil will not come out of the Endivem escarole anymore and it will start to fry again.
Post Scriptum: it is true, as the author tells us, that Endivem escarole and mandarin are typical of Christmas meals. But Endivem escarole is also used all year round. The Endivem escarole and the “friariello” have been the most appreciated vegetables in the last few years. In the Vesuvius area the inimitable taste of Endivem escarole is absorbed by the bread made from “mother yeast”, the result is really fantastic. It is worthy of the journey.