1 ½poundsescarole(from 2 large bunches or 2 ½ bunches if small)
5ouncesRomano cheese (cut into 1-inch pieces)
5ouncessliced black olives(two (2.5 oz.) cans
Make sure you have 2 pounds of pizza dough ready to use before beginning this recipe. (See notes.)
Fill a tall (8-quart) pot ⅔ full with hot water (enough to cover the escarole you will add later). Place the pot over high heat on the stove and add a tablespoon of salt. Cover the pot so it can come to a boil.
Prepare to clean the escarole in your sink. Clean your sink and place a stopper in the drain. Fill half the sink with cold water.
Place one bunch of unwashed escarole at a time horizontally on your cutting board. Cut off the root end and any discolored parts of the leaves. Cut the bunch into three equal sections (or 4 if the bunch is large) and transfer the cut escarole to the sink of water. Repeat with the rest of the escarole. (Wash off your knife and cutting board afterward.)
Swirl the escarole in the sink with your hands a bit. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the sink. Remove the cleaned escarole with your hands or a slotted spoon and transfer it to a drainer or bowl while you wait for the pot to boil. Drain and rinse the sink.
While the pot of water is still heating up, you can peel and slice the garlic into thin slices. Cut the Romano cheese into little chunks (about 1-inch rectangles).
When the water is boiling rapidly, add the cleaned escarole to the pot and give it a stir. When the pot boils again, let the escarole cook for another 1 or 2 minutes. Drain the escarole in a colander in the sink.
Make sure your top oven rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 12-inch round pizza pan with cooking spray.
If you have a salad spinner, use it to remove excess water from the boiled escarole. Otherwise, let the escarole sit in the drainer and pat the escarole dry with paper towels so it won't splash when it gets added to the pan of oil in the next step.
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a 12-inch frying pan and place it over medium-high heat. Add the garlic slices and cook them for about a minute, being careful not to let them burn. Add the parboiled escarole to the pan and stir to coat the greens with the oil. Add the salt and pepper. Saute the escarole for a couple minutes, stirring as needed to allow it to get the flavor of the garlic and oil. Turn off the heat.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the escarole and garlic to a colander in the sink to drain.
Add the Romano pieces to a large mixing bowl. Drain the olive slices (I use a fine-mesh strainer.) Pat the olives dry with paper towels and add them to the mixing bowl.
Carefully pat the escarole with paper towels to absorb excess liquid. You want to keep some oil for flavor, but you don't want the greens dripping wet, or they will make the pizza crust soggy.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the escarole mixture to the large mixing bowl. Stir to combine the greens with the cheese and olives.
Place two pounds of pizza dough on a floured work surface. Use a straight-edged knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into two parts -- you will need about 19 ounces of dough for the bottom crust and about 13 ounces for the top crust. (Weigh the sections if you have a scale, or use about ⅔ of the dough for the bottom and ⅓ for the top.)
Shape the larger section of dough into a round disk to fit your pizza pan. (It helps to grasp the dough by the edges, hold it up, and let it stretch out. Rotate the dough a bit and continue, pressing the dough with your fingers in the thick spots to thin it out.) Place the dough in your greased pan and pull and press it evenly into place, making sure there are no holes. You can leave the edges of the dough circle a little thicker than the middle.
Transfer the escarole mixture onto the dough in the pan. Spread the vegetables on the center of the dough, leaving about 1 ½ inches of dough showing around the edges.
Shape the other portion of dough into a round disk that will fit your pan, as before. Place the dough on top of the escarole mixture and pull and press it as needed to completely cover the vegetables and reach the edges of the bottom crust. Tuck the edges of the top crust over and under the edges of the bottom crust and press gently to seal the pizza closed.
Bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes on the rack positioned in the center of your oven. Start with the pizza uncovered, and after 25 minutes, loosely cover it with foil for the last five minutes of baking. This will allow the bottom crust to brown properly while ensuring the top crust doesn't get too dark. (If your oven runs extra hot, you will need to cut down the baking time by a few minutes.)
Let the escarole pizza rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes before slicing it. It tastes best when it's not piping hot. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat slices in the microwave.
Recipe time does not include making the pizza dough. You can buy it from a local pizza place, if you wish.
If you don't have a 12-inch round pizza pan, you should be able to make this in a 9x13 pan.