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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Akshay

Orecchiette alle Cime di Rapa (Turnip Top Greens Pasta)

This dish is one I keep getting asked to share my recipe about and one that actually I make quite often, being one of my absolute favourites.

Orecchiette with turnip top greens are a traditional peasant dish, simple but with a unique taste and bold flavour.

Orecchiette are a pasta typical of Apulia (Puglia), a region of Southern Italy. Their name comes from their shape, which resembles a small ear.

A few tips I learned over the years:

  1. The secret to master this dish lies in cooking the turnip greens along with pasta, so that the latter can absorb all the aromas and nutrients.

  2. Check the cooking time on the pasta packaging - if using dried orecchiette, they should need around 12-14 minutes so you will need to let the pasta cook for a few minutes before adding the turnip tops or these will get overcooked. If, on the other hand, you are using fresh pasta, it should require no more than 5 minutes to cook, so you will need to add the turnip tops first and the pasta after a few minutes.

  3. The original recipe calls for anchovies, but being vegetarian I don't use these.

Ingredients (for 2):

  • 300g turnip top greens

  • 200g orecchiette pasta (I used @garofalopastauk )

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced finely

  • 2 red chillies (or 1 tsp chilli flakes)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Grated pecorino or parmigiano

  • Salt to taste


Discard the external, largest leaves from the turnip top greens. Chop the smaller internal leaves and florets and wash thoroughly.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add salt. If using dried pasta like me, add it to the pot as soon as the water boils. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the turnip top greens and cook for additional 8-9 minutes.

In the meantime, in a wide pan heat the extra virgin olive oil, add the minced garlic and chillies and let them brown for about 30 seconds. Remove from the flame and keep aside.

Drain the pasta and turnip top greens and transfer to the pan with the oil, garlic and chilli. Put the pan back on the flame and stir well to coat completely. Sauté for 1 minute and switch off the flame.

Top with the grated cheese and serve immediately.

Word of the Day

Orecchia or Orecchio

(ear, pronounced o·réc·chia or o·réc·chio)

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