Pancotto is a typical Apulian dish made with stale bread and wild herbs from the area.
It was a “salvage” dish, to use up bread from previous days that is now hard, so as not to throw anything away.
Today pancotto has become a typical specialty served in Apulian restaurants.
- 1 pound turnip greens, broccoli rabe or other bitter greens such as collard or mustard greens (which should yield a little more than a cup of cooked greens)
- 1/2 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, preferably coarse sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 2-4 cups of cubed (1/2″ cubes) stale bread (bread should be rustic, such as levan or sourdough)
Note: Use more bread, more liquid, depending on your own preferences
- Bring a large pot with at least 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. While waiting for the water to boil clean the greens, eliminating tough stems.
- Add 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt to the boiling water, add greens and cook for 5 minutes or until tender-a central leaf rib will be soft when pinched. Drain greens into a colander, reserving 2 cups of cooking water.
- Cool greens under running cold water, squeeze out excess water, and coarsely chop. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over moderate heat in a large skillet, add garlic and chili and sautÈ until garlic begins to brown.
- Add chopped greens and sautee so they absorb the oil.
- Add the bread cubes, 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and sautÈ. The amount of bread used is strictly personal-some cooks use more bread and some less. Sautee over medium-high heat so that bread absorbs greens, oil and liquid.
- Taste and add salt if necessary. Add more reserved cooking water, 1/2 cup at a time, if necessary. Pancotto should be moist but not soupy. Remove from heat, add 1/4 cup or more extra virgin, stir and serve.