Orecchiette alle cime di rapa, lend me an ear

Orecchiete(from Italian orecchia, meaning 'ear', and -etta, meaning 'small')

This is quite possibly the most iconic recipe from the region of Puglia.Orecchiette with turnip tops are the Apulian recipe par excellence! Who does not know or has never eaten a nice plate of orecchiette with turnip tops?
Cime di rape is a green leafy vegetable grown in Puglia in winter, also known throughout the world as broccoli rabe, rapini or turnip tops.It is packed with flavour and, as the vegetable cooks, it becomes creamy in texture.At a pinch broccoli can be used as a substitute.This is probably one of my all time favourite pasta dishes. The remarkable thing about it is how the greens almost melt together with the pasta. This comes from the old Pugliese technique of boiling the pasta and vegetables together and then sautéing them in garlic, oil, and anchovies. If you’re not a big anchovy person, don’t worry; once they’re melted into the oil, the flavour is so subtle that you’ll barely notice. If you’re making this dish for people who don’t love anchovies, don’t even tell them they’re in there! They’ll never know! Wherever you are in the world as long as you can source the key ingredient,Orecchiete then the rest,the greens are most probably growing around you and if not you can substitute.
 If you are in Portugal you can use Grelhos in place of the cime di rapa that one should use if being authentic,and in the tradition of Doce conventuais would probably be called "priests ears". In America they use rapini or broccoli rabe ,which in Spain is called bimi.Preparing this dish  is really easy and the result is absolutely amazing.Enlivening the taste of turnip tops are garlic and chili that create a really irresistible sauté.
Orecchiette with turnip tops
Ingredients for 2 people:

orecchiette: 250g
200g broccoli rabe,cime di rapa,bimi,rapini,grelhos
olive oil
Garlic: 1 large clove thinly sliced
Half long red
chilli chopped finely, plus extra dried flakes (optional)
6 anchovy fillets

For de sal
toasted breadcrumbs for garnish
Discard the tough bottom part of the cime di rape and chop the rest roughly on the diagonal.
Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic,cook gently till golden.
Toss in the anchovies and stir until they melt into the oil,then stir in the  chilli  Cook, stirring, allowing everything to soften, for about 5 minutes.
Add the cime di rape and combine well.
Season to taste and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the cime di rapa has wilted.
Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in boiling salted water until al dente.
While the orecchiette is cooking, skim off about a ladleful of the white, starchy pasta water and add it to the cime di rapa sauce, stirring to combine.
Drain the pasta well and add it to the sauce in the pan and combine well.Continue cooking until the orecchiette is coated and cooked.
Transfer to a communal serving bowl, sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil.
Your orecchiette with turnip tops are ready and the original Apulian recipe does not include the addition of cheese ...Season to taste and serve.


  1. Looks delicious and want to try it ! But replacing broccoli rabe by "cambuquira" - sprouts and flowers of pumpkin, zucchini or chuchu (very comun here in Brasil).


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