orecchiette con cime di rapa/’little ears’ with turnip tops


so very Puglian, and that’s a very good thing


It’s a classic pasta preparation from Puglia, and I’ve prepared it many times, but last night when I began to revisit orecchiette con cime di rapa I had almost forgotten that this particular recipe, which I had started working with with many years ago, calls for fresh bread crumbs rather than dry. Unfortunately, at the time I was reminded of this, because I was looking pretty closely at the printed text of a dish absent for some time from our table, I didn’t have a single fresh crumb in the kitchen.

I haven’t been buying bread as often as I used to, so, for the same reason why there was no bread, there were barely enough homemade dry breadcrumbs in the overhead cabinet.

The dish works very well with the dry, but fresh crumbs, briefly sautéed like these, would be more fun, just as crunchy, but with a little bounce in the bite.

And then there was some excellent cime di rapa.



  • half of a pound of an excellent artisanal Puglian pasta, Benedetto Cavalieri ‘Single Orecchiette’ and half a pound of broccoli rabe from Lani’s Farm, bottom stems removed and the rest of the greens roughly chopped, all boiled together in a large pot of salted water until the pasta was al dente, a cup of the water reserved just before the orecchiette was drained and tossed into a separate deep heavy pot in which 3 garlic cloves, 3 salted anchovies (rinsed and filleted), and more than one not-so-very-hot Cayenne thin red pepper from Oak Grove Plantation had been slowly heated until the garlic had colored lightly, everything (including a judicious amount of the reserved pasta water) then tossed/stirred over a low-to-moderate flame for a couple of minutes to blend the flavors and the ingredients before being served, sprinkled with half of a cup of dry homemade breadcrumbs which had been browned earlier in olive oil with a pinch of salt
  • the wine was an Italian (Sicily) red, Corvo Nero d’Avola 2012
  • the music was Sibelius Symphony No.5, Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic