Orecchiette with Broccoli Raab
You can see nimble-fingered ladies making and drying orecchiette or “little ears” of pasta in the labrynthine back streets of the old town of Bari Vecchia in Puglia. Orecchiette with broccoli raab is very traditional. Simple yet sensational.
Preparation time: 10 minutes (longer to make your own orecchiette)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
750g broccoli raab (see note)
500g dried orecchiette* (or recipe below)
6 anchovies, drained and rinsed
1 ½ teaspoons chopped red chilli
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil – or less to taste
- Wash the broccoli raab, cut the tops and set aside. Bring a large pan (big enough to hold the pasta later) of salted water to the boil and blanche the broccoli raab for a couple of minutes. Keep the water but remove the broccoli raab and drain well.
- Return the pot to cooktop and bring back to the boil. Add the orecchiette and cook according to packet instructions.
- Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large pan over gentle heat. Add anchovies, chilli, garlic and salt and cook gently until aromatic, around 5 minutes.
- Drain orecchiette and add with the broccoli raab to the pan with the anchovy mixture. Toss to combine. Season to taste.
Lyndey’s note: In Italy broccoli raab or rabe is called cime di rapa (meaning “turnip tops”). It is also known as rapi, or rapini. You can substitute 500g brocolini; slice stalks thinly and cut heads into little florets. Cacioricotta is a ricotta cheese made in spring which is dried and can also be aged.
500g semolina flour (or half and half with plain flour) + extra to roll
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup (250ml) warm water, approx.
- Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until a dough is formed. You may need more or less water, depending on the humidity in your kitchen.
- Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead it like bread until smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes. Cut the dough into 16 equal portions cover and stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.
- Roll one portion of dough into approx. 40cm long rope. Holding a knife at a 45-degree angle to work surface, press and drag a 1cm piece from the end of the rope facing you and roll dough toward you. A grainy wooden cutting board helps grip the dough. Unfurl each piece of dough over your thumb in the opposite direction to form a concave shape, and transfer to a baking sheet lightly sprinkled with semolina flour. Repeat with remaining dough. Orecchiette can be stored at room temperature in a single layer overnight; cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
If you want to try this and other traditional Pugliese dishes join Lyndey on her Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata, 8 – 14 October 2022
Photography by: Max in Puglia