Orecchiette with Cooked Green Leafy Vegetables

Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Orecchiette (the word means “little ears”) are popular in Puglia, the region of Italy that Greece-bound travelers vaguely remember passing through on their way to the ferry in Bari. Many of Puglia’s pasta dishes are based on vegetables and olive oil; Puglia is famous for both. Although the Pugliese have their favorite greens—broccoli raab among them—this simple method of combining greens and pasta can be used for chard, arugula, kale, turnip or beet greens, or even spinach.


greens such as chard, kale, turnip or beet greens, or spinach or arugula or broccoli raab 2 lb or 4 bunches or 2 lb 900 g or 4 bunches or 900 g
garlic cloves, very thinly sliced 4 4
peperoncini, stemmed and chopped or red pepper flakes 2 or 2 tsp 2 or 10 ml
extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup 125 ml
dried orecchiette or short tubular pasta such as macaroni, ziti, or penne 1 lb 450 g
salt and pepper to taste to taste
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil for cooking the pasta. Remove the heavy stems from the greens, arugula, or broccoli raab, wash and drain, and chop the leaves and/or flowers coarsely.
  2. Heat the garlic and peperoncini over medium heat in 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot large enough to hold the drained pasta. When the garlic smells aromatic and begins to turn very slightly brown, about 3 minutes, stir in the chopped vegetables. Continue stirring over medium heat until the vegetables release their moisture and become tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cook and drain the pasta. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining olive oil. Add the pasta and toss. Pass the Parmesan cheese at the table.