Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs

Cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) is used frequently in the cuisine of southern Italy. This recipe is adopted from Antica Trattoria Lucana in Matera, Basilicata, where bowls of toasted breadcrumbs are passed from table to table like “the poor man’s Parmigiano.”

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs

Photo by Tufgrlz B.

  • Prep Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings



  • 1

    –2 pieces dried crusty whole-grain bread, sufficient to make ½ cup toasted breadcrumbs

  • Salt, to taste

  • pounds broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 14

    ounces orecchiette

  • 3

    tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

  • 2

    anchovy fillets


Make the breadcrumbs ahead of time. Use a cheese grater to make crumbs from the bread slices, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350˚F, until crisp and golden brown. Cool prior to use. Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for 3 minutes. Add the orecchiette and cook together so that the pasta becomes infused with the vegetable flavors in the water. When the pasta is al dente, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet set over medium heat, add the olive oil and anchovies, and sauté for several minutes, until the anchovies break into tiny pieces. Add the orecchiette and broccoli rabe to the hot oil, and stir for a few minutes to coat and reheat. Serve the orecchiette piping hot, drizzle with olive oil and generously sprinkle the breadcrumbs over each serving. Serves 4. Wine Pairing: There isn’t much sweetness to this dish because the vegetable greens are slightly bitter and the anchovies are salty. To balance things out, pair with a sun-ripened wine from southern Italy. Conti Zecca’s Nero Rosso del Salento (a blend of Negroamaro and Cabernet Sauvignon) or Tenute Rubino’s Torre Testa (made from the Susumaniello variety), also from Salento, would both work well.


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