Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe (Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa)

This pasta dish is the pride of the region of Puglia in Italy. And proud they should be because it is so good & outrageously simple.  I can't believe these words are mine because I grew up evading vegetables all throughout my younger years.  The same person who had to be reprimanded over and over again for not eating the veggies. 

I only discovered the beauty of the bounties of nature in Italy. When we were in Puglia last spring, I never got tired of eating this pasta. Believe it or not, both my kids love this pasta too. I guess I have to be grateful that they are vegetable & fruit eaters.  It would have been terrible if they were like me. Now I understand my parents' frustration with my limited diet when I was young. 

The mixture of garlic and anchovies is the key factor of this pasta because it boosts the taste of the broccoli rabe.  

When still fresh, it overflows in the pan.  When cooked, only a tenth of the original volume remains.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe (Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa)

Serves 2
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 chili, seeded and chopped 
  • 4 preserved salted anchovies 
  • 400 grams broccoli rabe, cut into small pieces 
  • 200 grams orecchiette pasta
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan
  1. Over high heat, boil a pot of water for the pasta.
  2. Meantime, over medium heat, in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil, sautè the garlic & chili.  
  3. Add the anchovies when the garlic starts to color.  
  4. When the anchovies start to diffuse, add the broccoli rabe on low heat. Avoid burning the garlic & anchovies by moving them constantly.
  5. When the broccoli rabe has diminished and has been toasted well, turn off the fire, after cooking for about 20 minutes.
  6. Do not add salt because the anchovies are already salty. Discard the garlic. 
  7. If the water is already boiling, add some salt then cook the orecchiette. Follow the cooking time indicated in the package then drain when cooked.
  8. Mix the broccoli rabe with the cooked orrechiette.  
  9. Sprinkle with parmesan & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.