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Parmesan-Garlic Crisped Bread with Spicy Greens

4 Servings

35 minutes

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Pancotto, also known as pane cotto, translates as “cooked bread,” a reference to the stale bread that is torn into pieces and cooked similar to pappa al pomodoro, the much-loved Tuscan tomato-bread soup. In Italy, we learned there is no one way to make pancotto. In fact, the version taught to us by Antonietta di Gruttola, a home cook from Ariano Irpino, about 100 kilometers east of Naples, was hardly a soup, and more like a soft, forkable, egg-free “stuffing” that might accompany roasted poultry. She kept the bread chunky and added a generous amount of olive oil as well as wild bitter greens flavored with garlic that melted into softened bread. For our adaptation of di Gruttola’s pancotto, we opted to start with fresh bread and toast the pieces in garlic-infused oil so they offered a chewy crispness in the finished dish. After toasting, we dusted the bread with Parmesan for a flavor boost. Without any foraged greens at hand, we chose escarole, a type of chicory that boasts a pleasant bitterness and a leafiness that becomes silky with heat. We cooked the bread and greens separately, brought the two together at the end and finished the dish with another drizzle of olive oil. Our pancotto is satisfying enough to be a meatless meal but also is an excellent side to roasted poultry or meats.




Don’t bother to carefully dry the escarole after washing it. Simply allow it to drain in a colander, and shake the colander a couple times to drain off excess. A little water clinging to the leaves is fine, as the added moisture will create more steam during cooking and help the leaves soften and wilt.

35 minutes


  • ¾

    cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve

  • 6

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled


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