Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa Recipe

Stretched between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, Puglia’s sun-soaked landscape in southern Italy is celebrated for its signature dish, orecchiette with broccoli rabe. The pasta’s “little ears,” as “orecchiette” translates, are the perfect shape to scoop up the chunkier sauce.

Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa (Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe)

Recipe courtesy of Eataly

Yield: 4 servings

For the fresh pasta*:
1 cup durum semolina flour
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

*If you prefer dry pasta: 
8 ounces dry orecchiette

For the sauce: 
10 ounces broccoli rabe, rinsed & chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ cup grated aged pecorino, preferably from Puglia
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 clove garlic
Sea salt, to taste

To prepare the fresh orecchiette:
In a medium bowl, whisk the two flours together. Mound the flour on a work surface, and make a well in the centre.

Place about 2 tablespoons of room-temperature water in the well. With two fingers, stir in some of the flour off the walls and into the centre. When the water has been absorbed, repeat with more water, always adding small amounts, until you have a soft dough. (You will probably need between 2/3 cup and 1 cup water.)

Knead the dough until it is smooth and soft, about 10 minutes. If it crumbles while you are kneading, wet your hands a few times to incorporate a small amount of additional liquid.

Lightly flour a baking sheet, and set aside. Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball, and put the remaining dough under an overturned bowl, to keep it from drying out. On the work surface, roll the piece of dough into a rope about ½ inch wide.

Use a knife to slice off a disk about 1 1/8 inch wide, and pull the disk away from the rope of dough, pressing it against the work surface. Then lift up the disk and invert it over a fingertip. It should be shaped like a little hat with a rolled “brim” all around the perimeter. Transfer the shaped pasta to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough.

To prepare the dish:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add salt and cook the broccoli rabe until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the broccoli rabe with a slotted spoon, and run under cold water. Squeeze as much water as possible out of the broccoli rabe, and chop roughly. Set aside.

Let the water return to a boil, then add the orecchiette and cook until it floats to the surface (if fresh) or until it is al dente (if dry, about 12 minutes or according to package instructions).

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan. Peel and crush the garlic clove, sauté until browned, then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and discard.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the pan, along with the remaining olive oil and the chopped broccoli rabe. Toss over medium heat until combined, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle on the grated cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, and toss to combine. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and serve immediately.

 Buon appetito!

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