Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa

The typical pasta dish from the South-Italian region of Puglia is orecchiette with cime di rapa. Cime di rapa is a vegetable that is also known as broccoletti or rapini. It is not the same as broccoli, although the green buds in the center certainly resemble small heads of broccoli. If you can’t find cime di rapa, you can make orecchietti with broccoli instead using the same recipe. It’s not the same dish, but good all the same. This time I used dry orecchiette, but this is even better if you use home-made orecchiette instead. Orecchiette with Cime di rapa is another example of a very simple but delicious regional Italian dish.



For 2 servings

150 grams (1/3 pound) orecchiette

1 bunch (450 grams/1 pound) cime di rapa

3 anchovy fillets

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic


chilli flakes


Wash the cime di rapa. Separate the leaves from the central stems with the buds. Peel the central stem and chop it roughly. Leave the leaves whole. Mince the garlic clove and the anchovies.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, cime di rapa leaves and orecchiette. The cooking time of the cime di rapa depends on how tender the leaves are, between 6 and 10 minutes. You may need to add the cime di rapa after the orecchiette instead of at the same time, also depending on the time needed to cook the orecchiette.

Add the stems and buds only for the last 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan and add the garlic. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes until golden. Do not allow the garlic to turn brown!

Turn off the heat and add the anchovies. Stir to allow the anchovies to ‘melt’.

Drain the orechiette and cime di rapa once they’re cooked, and add to the pan. Toss to mix.

Serve immediately on warm plates, sprinkled with chilli flakes.

18 thoughts on “Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa

    1. Thanks! The only problem with anchovies is that you have to use up a can or jar all at once, because they get an unpleasant fishy smell very soon afterwards (even when frozen).


      1. You can actually buy tubes of anchovy paste which is not as good as the whole fish admittedly, but it isn’t a bad substitute and has the advantage of keeping very well in the fridge once the tube is opened. Handy to have on hand sometimes!


      2. Another very authentic recipe , one of my favourites!

        Have you tried using anchovies preserved in salt? They keep for a very long time, even out of the fridge. When you want to use them, soak them for a few minutes to remove the excess salt


        1. I have not tried that and thanks for the tip. I don’t think anchovies preserved in salt are available in the Netherlands, but I’ll remember to bring some when I go to Italy again.


      3. Stefan, have you tried looking at Meeuwig & Zn, Haarlemmerstraat 70 ? As far as I remember they have a lot of different varieties of Italian anchovies.


    1. Now that you mention it, it does seem to happen more quickly with the canned ones. I hardly ever buy jars because there are so many anchovies in them and I only use 3 or so at a time.


  1. Running far behind and trying to catch up, Stefan …
    This is another great dish that you’ve shared. So easy to prepare and big on flavor. I’ve read the comments and unable to find salted anchovies, I’ve switched to jarred. There’s just too much waste — and smell — when I used the little tins.


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