Orecchiette con cime di rape is the signature dish of the Puglia region of southern Italy. Orecchiette literally translates as "little ears". They look like little bowl shaped discs that are ideal for catching the wonderful sauce they are to be tossed with. Every village in the Puglia region has a special way of making them. We were the lucky recipients of some artisan made orecchiette from Alberobello, Bari. It is worth the effort and expense to seek out the best orecchiette you can find to make this dish, but if neccessary DeCecco makes orecchiette that are readily available at most supermarkets. This classic dish features cime di rape, also known as broccoli rabe in English, or sometimes referred to as turnip greens. I was able to find broccoli rabe at a local grocery store, but you may need to go to a local ethnic produce market. Make sure it is nice and fresh, your dish will be a real treat.
2 bunches (about 2-3 pounds) broccoli rabe
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
grated pecorino cheese
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
First put a large pot of water to boil, add salt generously. Wash your broccoli rabe, and cut off any hard stems. Put the broccoli rabe to boil in the salted water for about 10 minutes. When it is tender, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon, drain in a collander and set aside. You will use this same water to cook the pasta, so don't pour it out.
Next add the orecchiette to the same boiling water, and cook according to the package directions. You want the orecchiette cooked, but still al dente. While the pasta is cooking, you will prepare the broccoli rabe condiment for your pasta. In order to get the consistency I like, before heating the broccoli rabe with the other ingredients, I put it in the food processor and pulse it a little bit. You can coursely chop it to your desired consistency prior to using. In a large skillet heat about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic, and stir until brown. Then put the chopped anchovies and break them up with your spoon. Add the broccoli rabe to the skillet and stir well until all the ingredients have combined. You may want to add a little bit of salt, and perhaps a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
When the pasta is done, drain it, and add it to the skillet. Toss all the ingredients together over medium heat until they are well blended together. Add more extra virgin olive oil if needed. Serve your orechiette with a sprinkling of grated pecorino cheese on top, and enjoy with a nice red wine. Buon appetito!