Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs (Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa)



Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a bitter green that comes into season in autumn. It is a member of the turnip family and you will find it at selected greengrocers in bundles of large leaves with broccoli-like flower heads opening into small yellow flowers.   It’s earthy and rustic – a peasant-style Puglia dish to get you through the day.  In Puglia the main meal is lunch at around 1:30. Stores close at 1.  After lunch  they take a nap (penneca) since nothing is open anyway again until 6pm.  Carmen who does my nails at her home always asks what i made for lunch and we talk about food. She gave me her way of doing this classic Puglia dish and went home and made it as it sounded so good!


  • 400g cime di rapa or 1 pound
  • 200g pasta of your choice (the tradition is orecchiette)  I go veggie heavy and pasta light and make up for it all with the fresh pressed olive oil I helped produce.
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • half cup fresh bread crumbs – at the bread counter in Italy (i make crumbs out of stale bread and keep in freezer)
  • 4 anchovies (optional but they make the flavor jump!)
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes or preferably a whole dry chili broken in half and tossed in
  • Parmesan, grated, to serve
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Wash the Cime di Rapa well, slice the lower part of the stalks into 2-3 cm pieces, keep the leafy tops whole. Drop the greens into the water.  You will add the pasta to the same pot when the Cime is almost done and a knife slices easily through it
  2. Meanwhile gently heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan (must be big enough for the finished dish) and slowly cook the garlic until fragrant but not burning.  Add the bread crumbs and dried chilli, cook gently for 2 minutes until the crumbs are toasted and golden. Cut the heat and save for later
  3. Drain the pasta and greens together when the pasta is still al dente (it will keep cooking as you finish) keeping a cup of the water for later in case it’s too dry.  Dump the drained mixture into the  bread crumb pan, add the anchovies if using and stir it all together fast while on medium heat adding some of the pasta water if needed and drizzle of good olive oil. Serve piled into shallow bowls and finish with plenty of grated Parmesan and more good olive oil.  I love fresh cracked black pepper on everything but in Italy you don’t put chilli peppers and black pepper together ever! But in the end I do what I want and like.

Pasta Alla Carbonara – best one ever from Rome!

paccheri alla carbonara Rome

I have been on the search for the best way to make Pasta alla Carbonara for years as there are many different opinions on this in Italy. In America they usually don’t have a clue as they don’t even use real eggs but cream instead.

So my last visit to Rome in September at an old standby restaurant where we know the owner, I confirmed the “secret of success”. We actually did not eat at his restaurant because he was full so we ate across the way at his sister’s restaurant. My husband had the Spaghetti alla Carbonara and it came with scrambled eggs throughout- the ultimate sin in my book for this sauce caused by the egg being overheated creating a scramble vs. a golden creamy decadent sauce! They key to the perfect sauce is more egg yolks than whole eggs and a warmed bowl- easily accomplished by setting it over the boiling water for pasta.
Remember the sauce always waits for the Pasta! that means the pasta is the last step! So important for great pasta dishes! Then the pasta and sauce come together stirring and combining so each noodle is coated with sauce but never swimming in it. The tricky thing about this dish is that you can’t finish it off in the skillet with the sauce as usual or you will end up scrambling the egg.

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe from Ristorante di Pietro al Pantheon:

white wine and peperoncino optional
Serves 4 large or 7 small portions

Pancetta (Italian bacon) -1/2 cup cubed – a high quality bacon like Benton’s can be substituted and is delicious too!
Extra virgin olive oil – evoo- just enough to coat the pan

1 peperoncino (italian spicy red pepper) dried or fresh cut into small
peices – or about 10 red pepper flakes

Pecorino Romano cheese – can use Parmigiano, Grana or mixed–½ cup. I like half and half

Spaghetti (or other long pasta) – one pound package bronze cut- figure 1/4 pound per person

6 Egg yolks at room temperature
2 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
White Wine ¾

Freshly ground black pepper –

Cook the Pancetta in evoo with the hot pepper slowly until crisp. Keep warm.

Always put the water on to boil first but wait to dump the pasta in last! (butto la pasta?)

Place the serving bowl over the boiling water to warm it up- this pasta cools too quickly otherwise

Sauté the bacon or pancetta in the evoo slowly until the fat is rendered. This is where you can spice it up with an Italian pepper (pepperoncino) chopped up seeds and all. If using bacon, you can discard the oil after its cooked- and add ¼ cup evoo to pan. If it’s Benton’s bacon keep the oil for flavor!
Add wine and let evaporate
Beat the eggs together with black pepper.

When the water boils add coarse salt then dump the pasta all at once.

While pasta cooks beat the eggs in your warmed bowl with fresh cracked pepper
When the pasta is extra al dente drain, leaving some water clinging to the pasta and reserving at least a cup of the pasta water.

add pasta  to the warm Pancetta and mix well over the heat to keep the pasta hot,  This is why it’s extra al dente as it will continue to cook.

Then dump all into the serving bowl with the  eggs so as to cook the egg and create the sauce – add hot pasta water  and  grated cheese alternating while stirring until  a cream sauce is realized. (a trick I learned from my Roman friend Alessandra – it’s what the top restaurants do)

Pass the cheese and black pepper around the table for those who would like it
Note: adding more cheese makes the sauce dryer and less creamy.

9 Minute 1 Pot Pasta from Italy – No Kidding!

9 minute 1 pan pasta!

Check out my Instagram italianjanefood!

Read the story here!  This trick comes from a town in Puglia 30 minutes from where we lived 2 years ago!  I tried it and it really works! The great thing about this method is you retain the starchy goodness of the pasta water to result in a creamy sauce without any added cream.  Just the stirring of the pasta with sauce ingredients creates this delectable sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. This technique of stirring pasta with the sauce in the final step of making  pasta is a known method to expert Italian chefs ; but this 1 pot idea is a new one to me!!  The links have other variations of the same recipe like sausage and broccoli etc.



12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.