Stuffed Escarole with Fregola and GranQueso Cheese


2 large heads escarole (3/4 pound)
1 1/2 c. fregola*
1 c. pine nuts
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 roasted red peppers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
6 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2/3 c. golden raisins
6 Tbsp. chopped rinsed capers
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 c. (12-oz.) Gran Queso Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place baking rack in upper third of oven. Loosen leaves of escarole, leaving base attached; rinse well. Bring large pot of boiling salted water to boil and blanch escarole heads 2 minutes. Drain well and cool. Meanwhile, bring 1 quart water to a boil with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large saucepan. Add fregola; cook uncovered 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid; drain fregola in sieve. Sauté pine nuts in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 8-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add peppers, parsley, raisins, capers, pepper and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until raisins begin to plump, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add fregola. Cool slightly. Stir in eggs and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Put mixture through food mill with large holes, or pulse in food processor. For each head of escarole, place head upside down in bowl; cut off base and discard. Spread leaves to create a large pocket. Spoon in 1/2 of fregola filling into pocket. Fold base of leaves over mixture; then fold in sides to create a package, leaves covering all the filling. Tilt bowl and place packages seam-side down in 2-quart flameproof shallow baking dish. Repeat with remaining head of escarole and filling. Drizzle each escarole with reserved cooking liquid and 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle evenly with half the remaining cheese. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle remaining cheese over tops; bake an additional 15 minutes until browned on top. Cut in wedges to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

*Fregola is a type of pasta from Sardinia, available in Italian specialty shops or sections.

Recipes and images courtesy of © 2014 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.

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