Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe

The name ‘Orecchiette’ literally means ‘small ears’ due of their round, concave shape similar to small ears.

This is a type of fresh pasta typical of Puglia region in Southern Italy, is made with durum wheat Semolina flour, water and salt. Although they are great with just about any sauce, orecchiette are traditionally enjoyed with broccoli rabe, cime di rapa in Italian cime-di-rapa-the-italian-broccoli-rabe/ just like in this recipe.

In Bari, the main town of Apulia, in Bari Vecchia at Arco Basso area, there is a tradition linked not only to orecchiette but also to other types of fresh Apulian pasta. There are the ladies of fresh pasta, i.e. grandmothers and mothers who still make it by hand, standing on their doorsteps in the alleyways, bent over huge trays full of semolina and water and making pasta. In this way they maintain the ancient tradition of making orecchiette pasta, teaching to tourists how to make it.

Serves: 2 | Preparation time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins

  • Orecchiette: 180 g
  • Broccoli rabe: 450 g
  • Chili pepper: 2
  • Anchovy fillets in olive oil: 3 or 4
  • Garlic­: 4 cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): 6 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste


Remove damaged or yellowed leaves by pulling them off the base with your hands. If you want to use stems, it is better to make a cross cut on the base of them, in this way you will facilitate cooking.

Bring to boil salted water and blanch broccoli rabe for about 5 minutes; they should be softer, but still firm. Add the pasta to the same pot and cook together until the pasta is al dente. Keep aside a ladle of cooking water.

Meantime, heat up the Evoo in a pan, brown the garlic along with chilli pepper until well browned, then add anchovy fillets which will melt in a very short time.

As soon as orecchiette are ready, drain and add them along with broccoli rabe to the pan, pour in the ladle of cooking water you kept aside, stir-fry everything together for a couple of minutes and serve warm.

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