a close up of pasta in a white bowl
a close up of pasta in a white bowl

Orecchiette con cime di rapa

Orecchiette pasta with turnip tops

Cime di rapa, turnip tops, are also known as broccoletti because the taste and appearance are very similar to broccoli. This vegetable is very popular in southern Italy during the winter and often simply sauteed in olive oil, garlic and chilli. In Puglia, this vegetable is served with traditional handmade orecchiette pasta, shaped like little ears. Orecchiette are now becoming widely available in good delis and supermarkets outside of Italy. If you can't find cime di rapa, substitute with purple sprouting or long stem broccoli.

Make it yourself 

4 x servings


  • 360g dried or fresh orecchiette pasta
  • Salt
  • 500g turnip tops, clean weight, leaves only, discard stalks
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil & extra for drizzling
  • 3 x garlic cloves sliced
  • 1 x red chilli, finely chopped
  • Freshly grated pecorino cheese


  1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the dried orecchiette for 15 minutes. Halfway through, add the turnip tops. If using fresh orecchiette, cook the turnip tops first, then add the pasta for the last three minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil, add the garlic and chilli and sweat until the garlic is golden-brown, but not burned. Discard the garlic and chilli. Drain the pasta and turnip tops and return to the pan with a little of the pasta water and mix well with the olive oil. Stir in some pecorino cheese and serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
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