A simple, fresh take on Cime di Rapa sauce, a traditional Puglian sauce that goes perfectly with orecchiette. ‘Cime di rapa’ literally translates to ‘turnip tops’ and are the leafy green tops of broccoli rabe or rapini. Traditionally, cime di rapa were used in traditional Italian cooking as they were the only parts of the harvest left after farmers sold off the majority of their produce to wealthier regions. The leftovers, such as the cime di rapa, were used to make their own meals.

This cime di rapa recipe comes from our limited edition Pasta della Puglia Masterclass, but you can learn the ins and outs of other traditional Italian sauces in a Barbetta Pasta Masterclass any time of the year.

  • Hand-made orecchiette pasta, or 300-350g of dried orecchiette
  • 1 bunch cime di rapa (from selected greengrocers or Italian delis)
  • 150mL extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (70g) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped

How to make

Step 1

Cook fresh orecchiette in salted boiling water for approximately 6-7 minutes, or cook dried pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving 2 tbs cooking liquid.

Step 2

Pick the leaves from the cime di rapa and set aside. Slice half the stalks into 5mm-thick rounds, discarding the rest. Blanch stalks for 3 minutes in boiling salted water or until tender. Add leaves for 10 seconds, then drain and refresh under cold water. Finely chop and set aside.

Step 3

Heat 1/4 cup (60mL) oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add a garlic clove, breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Step 4

Add the rest of the garlic, plus anchovy, chilli and remaining 90ml oil, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until anchovy dissolves. Add cime di rapa. Lightly season. Add pasta and reserved cooking liquid, and toss to coat.

Step 5

Divide among serving bowls and scatter with breadcrumbs to serve.

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