Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
Staff Writer
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

Matthew Septimus

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

Orecchiette, which means "little ears" (a reference to their round, concave shape), is a regional symbol of Puglia. Traditionally, orecchiette are homemade. The combination of native, hard-wheat flour, and water (instead of egg) yields a firm-textured pasta.

The orecchiette are sauced with broccoli rabe that is cooked in olive oil seasoned with garlic, red pepper flakes, and chopped anchovy. (Anchovy is often used in combination with broccoli rabe and other bitter greens because the rich, salty flavor of the anchovy mellows the bitter taste of the vegetable.) The dish is finished with grated pecorino, and, classically, with fried breadcrumbs. Crumbled sausage may be added; it also balances the bitterness of the broccoli.

The broccoli rabe is traditionally blanched in the water in which the pasta will be cooked, which serves to infuse the pasta with the flavor of the vegetable.

Click here to see 15 Easy 15-Minute Pasta Recipes.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Add the broccoli and cook until tender and still juicy, and crushes when pressed between thumb and forefinger, 2-3 minutes. (Do not overcook; the broccoli will cook again in the olive oil.) Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Then, add the orecchiette to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and fry, stirring until golden, about 30 seconds. Set aside on absorbent paper.

Then, combine the oil, garlic, red chile pepper flakes, and chopped anchovy in a large skillet. Place over low heat and cook until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. (Or, if using the sausage, cook the garlic for only 1 minute until softened but not colored. Then, add the sausage and cook for 1 minute.)

Drain the pasta, reserving about 2 cups of the cooking water. Add the cooked broccoli rabe to the skillet, season with salt, to taste, and toss. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the drained orecchiette to the skillet with enough reserved pasta water to bathe the pasta. Simmer until most of the water is evaporated and the pasta is cooked. (You should see a little emulsified liquid surrounding the pasta.) Adjust the seasoning to taste. Toss with the cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta and serve.


Calories per serving:

420 kcal

Daily value:



  • Carbohydrate, by difference 13 g
  • Protein 19 g
  • Total lipid (fat) 33 g
  • Vitamin A, IU 109 IU
  • Vitamin A, RAE 8 µg
  • Vitamin B-12 2 µg
  • Vitamin D 18 IU
  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 2 mg
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 7 µg
  • Alanine 1 g
  • Arginine 1 g
  • Ash 3 g
  • Aspartic acid 1 g
  • Betaine 11 mg
  • Calcium, Ca 76 mg
  • Carotene, alpha 4 µg
  • Carotene, beta 4 µg
  • Cholesterol 80 mg
  • Choline, total 63 mg
  • Cryptoxanthin, beta 4 µg
  • Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 15 g
  • Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 4 g
  • Fatty acids, total saturated 12 g
  • Fatty acids, total trans 3 g
  • Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic 3 g
  • Folate, DFE 36 µg
  • Folate, food 12 µg
  • Folate, total 26 µg
  • Folic acid 15 µg
  • Glutamic acid 2 g
  • Glycine 1 g
  • Iron, Fe 3 mg
  • Isoleucine 1 g
  • Leucine 1 g
  • Lycopene 4 µg
  • Lysine 1 g
  • Magnesium, Mg 30 mg
  • Niacin 4 mg
  • Pantothenic acid 1 mg
  • Phenylalanine 1 g
  • Phosphorus, P 198 mg
  • Phytosterols 3 mg
  • Potassium, K 304 mg
  • Proline 1 g
  • Retinol 8 µg
  • Selenium, Se 16 µg
  • Serine 1 g
  • Sodium, Na 544 mg
  • Threonine 1 g
  • Tyrosine 1 g
  • Valine 1 g
  • Water 76 g
  • Zinc, Zn 6 mg
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