Orecchiette with Rapini (english version of Orecchiette alle cime di rapa)

orecchiette alle cime di rapaHave you ever been in Puglia? Yes? So surely you have eaten this traditional dish from this region of southern Italy. Rapini (or broccoli raab or rabe) is a green vegetable with a pleasant bitter flavor. The edible parts are the leaves, the buds and the stems.

Orecchiette is a kind of a ear-shaped pasta typical of Puglia (orecchio means “ear” in Italian). Our grannies prepared this home-made pasta during sundays morning to have it ready for the big lunch with the family. Obviously you can easily buy this pasta in a supermarket and spend your mornings sleeping or making excursions outdoors 🙂

The original recipe doesn’t contain any bread crumbs nor tomatoes. However I like the sweet flavor of the tomatoes that is an appealing contrast with the bitter flavor of the rapini. The addition of the bread is a crunchy variant suggested by a friend who comes from Basilicata, an other region in the southern Italy, near Puglia.


  • 150 gr of washed rapini (choose leaves and buds which are the tenderest part of the rapini)
  • 160 gr of dried orecchiette
  • 1  clove of garlic
  • 3-4 anchovies
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1 table spoon of bread crumbs
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • pepper, salt


In a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the anchovies, the chili pepper and the garlic.  Stir the anchovies to have a cream with the oil.

Add the tomatoes cut in 6 and stir a couple of minutes more until they are dissolved. Take out the garlic. Add pepper if you like. Don’t add salt in this step because anchovies are already enought salty.

Bring water to a rolling boil and add salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package direction. 6′ before the end add the rapini previously trimmed.

When the pasta is ready, drain it (reserving 2-3 tbs of water) and add it in the pan stirring gently to combine with the sauce. If needed, added some tbs of water to better mix the flavors.

Put in a pan the bread crumbs and cook 1′-2′ until the color is golden-brown. Divide the pasta among plates. Top each portion with a sprinkle of toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

Buon appetito! 🙂

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