A SIMPLE AND INEXPENSIVE POPULAR RECIPE: ORECCHIETTE WITH CIME DI RAPA
How could we finish off this newsletter about Puglia without a nod to one of its most iconic pasta dishes? Orecchiette, a typically handmade pasta shape from the region, are soft and starchy, which makes the perfect pairing to vegetable-based sauces. Cime di rapa are a variety of bitter, leafy green, available in most parts of southern Italy (although often referred to with different names depending on the location).
Cime di rapa are the Apulian name which roughly translates to “the tip of the turnip”, or indeed turnip leaf.
Prep time: 30’
Cooking time: 15’
Quantities for: 3 people
You can find handmade orecchiette at Egro’, together with cime di rapa in a jar, picked and preserved by selected brands in Puglia.
All you will need to do is heat some olive oil in a pan and add 50g of breadcrumbs to toast. Once they are golden, remove from heat, add some more oil to the same pan and add a clove of garlic (with the skin still on) and an anchovy (canned anchovies can also be found in store, and are a great ally to add some depth of savoury flavour to a dish). Mix until the anchovy has broken down into small pieces.
At this point you can add your cime di rapa to the pan and start cooking your pasta in boiling water, removing it from boiling water 2-3 minutes sooner than it says on the pasta packet.
Put aside a ladle or two of pasta water, drain the pasta and pour it into the pan, slowly adding the pasta water to finish off the cooking time together with your cime di rapa. Not only does this allow for the flavours to mix better, but it also allows for the pasta to release its starches into the pan and equally coat the cime di rapa. Keep mixing for the remaining cooking time, then add back your breadcrumbs and serve while still hot.