Gluten-free, Side Dishes, Vegan/Vegetarian

Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts]

Loreto August 3, 2018

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Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts], takes a homegrown vegetable to incredible levels of texture and taste.

Song of the day: “Miserere” by Zucchero & Luciano Pavarotti.

Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts] is a simple but elevated dish combining textures and sweet/savory combinations to give you a side dish that will have everyone asking for a second helping.



Scarola (escarole) is something I grew up with. In our Italian family having a garden full of rich delicious vegetables was a given. Our backyard housed a large garden which usually was plentiful with tomatoes, carrots, beans, and numerous greens. My parents were great growers and I truly enjoyed the harvest and preparation of all the different dishes that they created.

Several months ago I lost my father, a very difficult thing to go through because he was my mentor. I truly miss him and instead of wallowing in sadness I wanted to celebrate my dad Americo in a way that I felt would make him happy. This spring there was a bit of deliberation as to if the garden would be planted and I had thought just a few things like cicoria (chicory), misticanza (radicchio leaf), maybe some carrots and tomatoes, not leaving out potatoes. Well, it turned out to be a full out planting with my mom governing and now the garden is plentiful and luscious. One thing about my mother, it always has to be big and abundant, and who is going to argue with an Italian mom.

So to make a long story short the garden was planted, my memories of my father lived inside of me as I planted seed upon see and small tomato plants. I have to say a few tears were shed planting the garden. It is now August and our garden is producing a bounty of zucchini, zucchini flowers, greens, carrots, potatoes, even the corn looks amazing. I think my father’s spirit is in the garden helping me and some might think that is silly but silly is what silly does and the fact that many told me I planted the things wrong, the garden is proving them wrong and I have a grin from ear to ear as in my mind if you do something with all your heart and give the energy required by taking care of what you planted, the end result is amazing and the garden speaks for itself. “Thank you, dad, wherever you are!”

Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

Scarola is quite an unusual green. At first glance, you think wow, weeds, it’s spiky, spiny, and resembles those stinging nettles that grow wild in the ground, but on the contrary, it is a very tender green when picked at just the right time. Don’t be afraid, it is not prickly, lol. It has a slight bitter back drop which I really enjoy and even in a salad when made with those young leaves really adds a diverse flavor to the mix. I think you can find the seed in your local Italian market if not, some of the green houses carry it. If not, a trip to Italy is in store and remember to make sure it is a commercially packed seed, because if you have raw seed in a bag, the border people may want to examine what you have and worst case senario they take the seed and discard of it. It requires very little work to grow, just putting it into the soil and some watering and within weeks you will see these wisps of delicious goodness rise to the air and get that saute pan ready because we are going to show you how to make this dish coming to us from Naples that we call Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts].

What you will need to create Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts]

  • Scarola, clean, washed and spun
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • anchovies (optional, if you want to keep it vegan)
  • chili flakes
  • pine nuts
  • plump golden raisins
  • Gaeta olives (Kalamata olives if you cannot find these)
  • dried oregano
  • capers (optional)
  • a little food love, lol.

Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

I love this recipe, all the aromas and textures and the fact that it comes from Napoli is a bonus. The food in this region is memorable and delicious! This dish is also quick and easy, just a quick saute of the oil, garlic, and anchovy to season the pan. Then in goes the peperoncino (chili flakes), then the scarola nice and fresh. As the scarola starts to wilt and soften in goes all the other ingredients. Stir to let them mingle, cover for a few minutes and that’s it. This dish is ready to serve. A quick plating and a splash of olive oil and you are truly ready to enjoy this amazingly simple yet sophisticated dance of flavor and texture.

Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

Nicoletta and I are so excited to taste this dish. Does it not look so inviting? Let’s give it a try.

Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

Oh WOW! The scarola is so juicy it is filling my mouth with its plumpness and the Gaeta olives add a nice acidic punch to the mix that marries well with that backdrop of bitterness from the greens. The pine nuts are a beautiful surprise with a slight crunch and the nuttiness gives another flavor note to rejoice about. The raisins amazingly plump come in with a bit of sweetness and that oregano is perfect to aromatize this dish. I love the subtleness of the anchovy it just spikes the flavor in such a gentle way and balances nicely with the symphony of flavors going on in this dish. That finish of e.v.o. oil is perfect, its grassiness just freshens the mix beautifully.

To me, this dish brings back many memories of my father and I am proud to say that I have grown this vegetable with all that my heart is! This dish is Italian from start to finish and I sure do hope you try this one it is so so delicious! Most of all have fun in your kitchen, laugh, play, and create what your heart so ever desires, after all, what would life be without food, inconceivable!


Song of the day:  “Miserere” by Zucchero & Luciano Pavarotti.

Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts]

  • Author: Loreto and Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


Scarola alla Napoletana [Sauteed Escarole with Olives, Raisins, and Pine Nuts] is a simple but elevated dish combining textures and sweet/savory combinations to give you a side dish that will have everyone asking for a second helping.


  • about 300 g escarole, cleaned, washed and spun dry
  • 3 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1 anchovy fillet in oil (omit, for vegan recipe)
  • 1 garlic clove, whole, smashed
  • a pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 handful black Gaeta olives, halved, pit removed
  • 1 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp capers (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Carefully wash the head of the escarole, removing the core and separating the leaves. Spun dry.
  2. Soak the raisins in a bowl with lukewarm water. When plump, drain and set aside with other ingredients.
  3. In a non-stick frying pan add three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, the smashed clove of garlic and anchovy fillet. Let the anchovy melt and dissipate in the oil, then add the chili flakes.
  4. Add the escarole and let it wilt, then add the rest of the ingredients: the oregano, the raisins, the pine nuts and the olives, (the capers, if using) and let it stew for about 10-15 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm with some bread and a drizzle of evo oil.


If the leaves of your escarole are too tough, you can blanch it first, drain, then sautee it in the pan.

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Scarola alla Napoletana-Sauteed Escarole with Olives, raisins, and Pine Nuts

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  • Avatar
    Reply shobee August 6, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    I am sorry for your loss. It is so hard to lose your mentor and the dad who care for you. It must be a happy and melancholic moment trying to remember your dad through gardening, a hobby he loves and doing it with your mom for sure had help her handle the grief. You guys must be an excellent grower having all those luscious plant grow in your backyard. I can only wish for a day wherein I can grow something…anything I plant, they die. So I am stuck with the grocery store.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 6, 2018 at 8:51 pm

      Hello It is a bessing to have the garden produce the way it is this year. It would have been nice to plant with my mom but she just started the tomatoes then she got ill and I am left to do it on my own. I felt I was guided through the whole process and it feels good to see it do well, huge validation for me. But luckily Nicoletta comes and helps me which makes it a whole lot better. At times I feel my fathers sprit and that also makes it all the worth while. I feel so grateful for all the delicious produce. I am wishing you success in planting in the future, don’t give up!
      Thanks for sharing in our post!

  • Avatar
    Reply Gloria August 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    WOW…I have never had escarole prepared this way before. Sounds like a great lunch or dinner to me. Give me a glass of wine, and I would be a happy girl.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 6, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      Sounds like a plan gloria, this is such a flavorful side dish and would be great with a nice white wine. Thank you for checking it out!
      Have a great week!

  • Avatar
    Reply Linda August 9, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve never cooked escarole before. This does hit all of the tastes. Aside from the escarole, I have all of the other ingredients in my pantry, so I need to try this!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 5:59 am

      Hi Linda, Nicoletta and I are so happy that you want to try this dish. We enjoyed it so much, the flavors and textures were amazing and this one will grace our table again real soon. There is escarole still growing in the garden. Thank you for checking this recipe out.

  • Avatar
    Reply Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen August 11, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    I didn’t eat any sort of bitter greens until after I married into an Italian family. Escarole is something that totally grew on me, and this recipe looks like a great way to enjoy it. I especially love the sweet and salty mix you have going on here – great for balancing out the bitterness of the escarole. Looks delicious!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 5:53 am

      Thank you, you are so right about the flavors balancing out the bitterness of the Escarole. It is so nice to see that being part of an Italian family has upened up your food world. That is the joy of culture and food.
      Have a great day!

  • Avatar
    Reply Anne Murphy August 12, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Hmm. I’ll also say the recipe balances the slightly bitter escarole – which is useful because I like it but the family doesn’t! Let’s see if I can get them to like this version…

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      That would be wonderful if you could try the recipe on your family and get them on the Escarole train. This recipe does a wonderful job balancing flavors and textures.
      Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply lauren August 12, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Sooo I’m going to pretend that none of the stores around here sell it so I can just skip to the trip to Italy and get the escarole. That’s a solid plan right? I love the balance of the escarole with the richer ingredients like the olive oil, olives and anchovy.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:55 pm

      I think that is a great plan to get you to Italy. You are right about the rich ingredients and balance, and I was so surprised at the anchovy it was so subtle and gives such a nice backdrop to the Escarole. Thank you so much for commenting we really do enjoy reading and answering back!
      Here’s to getting you to Italy.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sam | Ahead of Thyme August 12, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I can’t believe I have never heard of this dish! It looks amazing and the flavour combo sounds incredible. Yum!!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:52 pm

      Thank you Sam, we are so excited for you to try this out. I really loved how the textures and flavors played on eachother creating a balance and pleasureable experience.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kitty August 12, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    When I read your blog I feel like I’m traveling in Italy! Really sorry about your dad. So glad you had the garden to sow your woes into.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:51 pm

      Yes Kitty Thank you. The garden this year has been a blessing and it has made me feel like my dad is not to far off. He was such a great gardener and an amazing cook. I am so glad that when you read our posts you feel like you are in Italy. We love sharing our memories and travels with you!
      Have a great start to the week!

  • Avatar
    Reply Julie August 12, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had escarole cooked before — only raw. What a perfect way to cook out any bitterness with the olives!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:46 pm

      Yes Julie the olives, raisons, really help tone the bitterness of the escarole, but also picking it when it is still young and tender heelps too. As it gets bigger and denser it does get quite a bit more bitter. Thank you for commenting.
      Happy cooking!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kelsey August 12, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    What a great option for lunch! I love everything about this and I know my family will love it too!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:44 pm

      Thank you Kelsey. So glad you liked this it was a first for me in this combination usually have it just sauteed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. However I do have to say the flavors and textures in this dish were amazing and can’t wait to have it again, After all there is just a bit of Escarole left in the garden.

  • Avatar
    Reply Michelle Blackwood August 12, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    Love the sound of this recipe, I love bitter greens so I’m definitely going to try it as soon as I get the ingredients.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 12, 2018 at 11:41 pm

      Hi Michele, many don’t like the taste of bitter greens so it is always nice to hear of someone with an aquired taste for them. In Italy it is a staple and one that we see many times on the table along with bread. Thank you for checking out this recipe.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sara August 13, 2018 at 5:34 am

    This looks so good. I love pine nuts added to any dish, they add so much flavor!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto August 13, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Sara I agree. Although I did make a mistake once and added too many to a pesto and it was not a great experience. Goes to show you moderation is key and balance always must be maintained. Thank you!
      Have a wonderful day!

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