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orecchiette con cime di rapa
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5 from 3 votes

Orecchiette con cime di rapa - Italian Recipe

Orecchiette con cime di rapa are a traditional Italian recipe from Apulia, a south-eastern region with incredible food, history, and beaches. Homemade orecchiette are easy to prepare, with two simple ingredients: water and durum wheat semolina flour. The most famous and delicious orecchiette dish is made with broccoli rabe and is known as "orecchiette con cime di rapa" all-over the world.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: First Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Plant-Based, Vegan
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 479kcal
Author: Nico


For the homemade orecchiette

  • 250 g durum wheat semolina flour
  • 140 g warm water you might need a bit more depending on temperature, humidity and altitude of where you live.

For the sauce

  • 1 kg cime di rapa (not cleaned) also broccoli rabe, broccolini, or broccoli florets
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (this is used to replace the anchovies in the original recipe)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • chili pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch salt to taste


  • In a bowl, add the durum wheat semolina flour. Then add the hot water and start incorporating the two, first with a fork, then with your hands.
    mixing the dough
  • Transfer the dough onto a worktop and start kneading vigorously with your hands for about 10 minutes, or until you get a smooth dough ball.
    The dough should be quite compact and NOT sticky at all. If your dough is too sticky, then add more durum wheat semolina flour until is not anymore.
    kneading the dough
  • Shape the orecchiette like shown in this video.
    NB: if your dough is too elastic and hard to shape, then let it rest for 20 minutes on your worktop, covered with a kitchen cloth. This way the gluten will relax, and the dough will be easier to work with.
  • Then set them aside on a worktop covered with a thin layer of durum wheat semolina flour. You can now either let them dry for 12 to 24 hours and store them in a jar, or cook them straight away.
    letting the orecchiette dry

For the sauce

  • If you have Italian cime di rapa, separate the leaves and the florets from the stems, wash them and set aside.
    If you use broccoli rabe or regular broccoli, then only use the florets and remove most of the stem.
    NB: For this recipe we don't use much of the stems, but you can save them for a vegetable broth or for a soup.
    cime di rapa
  • Fill up half of a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add a handful of coarse salt and put in the leaves and the florets of the cime di rapa.
    cooking the cime di rapa in boiling water
  • Boil for about 5 minutes or until almost done. Then add the orecchiette.
    They'll cook in about 3 minutes if they are just made. They'll need a bit longer if they are dry. In any case, cook them until al dente.
    adding the homemade orecchiette to the boiling water
  • While the pasta cooks, in a large pan, add the oil, the soy sauce, the garlic, the chili and set on medium heat. When the garlic starts to fry, turn the heat off, and let cook with the residual heat of the pan.
    making the sauce
  • When the pasta and the broccoli rabe are ready, scoop them out of the water and add it to the pan with the sauce. Add a ladle of pasta water and finish cooking the pasta with the sauce.
    Stir gently on medium heat. Some of the cime di rapa should melt into the sauce and coat the orecchiette in a creamy dark and bright green sauce.
    mixing the orecchiette with the sauce
  • Turn the heat off, let cool down for 1 minute, then scoop into plates and enjoy with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
    orecchiette con cime di rapa


If you can, use a digital scale for our recipes. This way you'll get the best results.
We use calculateme.com to convert grams to US volume measurements. We believe they have the most accurate conversion algorithm. If must use cups and spoons, then use the "spoon and level" method. That is, spoon the ingredients into the measuring cup, or measuring spoon. Then level the excess with a knife.


Calories: 479kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Potassium: 674mg | Dietary Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 6662IU | Vitamin B6: 1mg | Vitamin C: 67mg | Vitamin E: 7mg | Vitamin K: 574µg | Calcium: 288mg | Folate: 327µg | Iron: 9mg | Manganese: 1mg | Magnesium: 93mg | Zinc: 3mg