Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe {Orecchiette con le cime di rapa}

Italian broccoli rabe pasta: Orecchiette con cime di rapa

I totally believe that the best diet is one that feels good to you. I know that vegetables are healthy, but I have an extremely hard (read: miserable) time eating cold salads all the time (which I feel like Americans are shamed into eating because the rest of our food is $%!@). But I won’t get into that right now. What I’d like to talk about is how I’m LOVING getting more veggies in.

I decided that if I’m going to eat more veggies, then it should be fun (and delicious). So last time we were at the grocery store, I decided that I was going to try a vegetable I have never had before, and that’s when I spotted cime di rapa. This is not exactly an unknown vegetable to me. I’ve heard tons of people raving about it on social media (I could just never find it in my hometown). I’ve tried it in Italy before on pizza with sausage and I loved it, so I wanted to try it at home. And just to illustrate how regional Italian food is…this was also Alberto’s first time making this recipe! (Alberto is from Veneto and this is a traditional dish from Puglia).

I vote cime di rapa aka broccoli rabe to be the next kale! Seriously, I’ve never been a big fan of kale (unless it’s Tuscan kale aka cavolo nero with sausage in a risotto or on a pizza…mmmmm).

About cime di rapa

  • A staple of Southern Italy (especially Puglia)
  • Also known in Napoletano dialect as friarieli 
  • Known in English as broccoli rabe
  • Traditionally served with orecchiette (literally little ears)
  • Is so good and maybe my favorite bitter green ever (but doesn’t taste bitter at all when cooked)

I hope that you can find broccoli rabe to make this recipe, because it is simple, traditional, and SO good! Plus you’ll be getting in some healthy greens and you won’t feel bad about not eating a salad.

Important: If you make this recipe, DO NOT omit the anchovy (unless you have an allergy, of course). DON’T be afraid of anchovies like I once was. In first grade we got to make our own “pizzas” with an English muffin base, and choose from an assortment of toppings, of which anchovies was one. The class clown took a bite of an anchovy and declared it “disgusting” and ever since then, I’ve been avoided/been afraid of them. I wish I could take back all of those anchovy-less years, because man o’ man…do they pack a lot of delicious, salty flavor (that doesn’t taste fishy AT ALL)!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe {Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa)

A simple, quick, healthy, and delicious traditional pasta dish from the region of Puglia in Italy. 
Course: Primo
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: italianatheart.com


  • 1 bunch Broccoli rabe
  • 3-4 Anchovies
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 400 grams Orecchiette
  • Salt to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste


  • Heat the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and anchovies over low heat in a saucepan. 
  • Prep the broccoli rabe by cutting off the thickest part of the stalks. Separate the flowers (the part resembling a small broccoli) from the leaves. 
  • Fill a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil. Then add about 1 tbsp of sea salt. 
  • Blanche the flowers first for 2-4 minutes depending on their size. Then blanche the leaves until for approximately 5 minutes until tender. 
  • Using the same pot,  bring the water back to a boil and cook the orecchiette according to the package directions. 
  • While the pasta is cooking, saute the broccoli rabe in the oil mixture. 
  • Cook the pasta until al dente and then add it to the broccoli rabe. And if you dare "jump" (saltare) the pasta in the pan (aka toss the pasta). Otherwise, you can mix the broccoli rabe & pasta together until well combined. Buon appetito!  


  • Try it with the anchovies. Seriously! 
Tried this recipe?Mention @italianatheart_ or tag #italianatheartrecipes!


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Ciao, I'm Kelly!

Welcome to my adventures in learning Italian, often while cooking authentic Italian recipes and wine tasting! I love discovering the traditional regional cuisine of Italy and trying to recreate those dishes when I'm back home in the US. I'm also on my way to becoming an Italian citizen through jure sanguinis (by ancestry).

WSET Level 2 Certified Wine Blogger


Join me for a virtual "aperitivo chat" to get exclusive updates on my Italian progress, dual citizenship journey, plus food & wine adventures in the Bel Paese and beyond!

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Lucy and Kelly
2 years ago

This sounds and looks delicious Kelly! We love anchovies too! <3 We love the way you set out your recipes and must try this!

Lucy and Kelly xx

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