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Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe&romanesco

Orecchiette pasta translates to pasta with “little ears” due to its round, squidgy shape.  The pasta is one of my favorites and not often seen on restaurant menus-  not sure why this is the case because the chew-factor is quite satisfying.

Broccoli rabe is a more bitter relation to regular broccoli, and romanesco also comes from the same family.  The addition of both these vegetables in this dish creates wonderful flavors, however you can make the recipe using entirely broccoli rabe.  Orecchiette requires somewhat of a bold sauce, or at least in my opinion, so I do not like making this dish with only romanesco.

My mother taught me to cook broccoli rabe with some chicken bouillon cubes to create more flavor, and take the edge off the bitterness.  You can use just water, or vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.

Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe&romanesco

Orecchiette pasta translates to pasta with “little ears” due to its round, squidgy shape.  The pasta is one of my favorites and not often seen on restaurant menus-  not sure why this is the case because the chew-factor is quite satisfying.

Broccoli rabe is a more bitter relation to regular broccoli, and romanesco also comes from the same family.  The addition of both these vegetables in this dish creates wonderful flavors, however you can make the recipe using entirely broccoli rabe.  Orecchiette requires somewhat of a bold sauce, or at least in my opinion, so I do not like making this dish with only romanesco.

My mother taught me to cook broccoli rabe with some chicken bouillon cubes to create more flavor, and take the edge off the bitterness.  You can use just water, or vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.

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Ingredients

Recipe serves: 6-8
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 large bunches broccoli rabe, hard stems removed, keep most of the leaves
2 bunches of romanesco, cut into florets
1 1/2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 cloves garlic, skins removed
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
zest of one medium lemon
optional
1/2 cup pecorino in bowl served at table
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thoughts&stories

The peak season for broccoli rabe is early spring, outside that time of year it is often difficult to find.

Italians estimate about 100 grams  per person, about 4 ounces per person- 1 pound box serves 4 people, 500 gram bag serves about 4 people.  But if serving for as a starter, you may want to the portion size to be slightly smaller.  I often measure out the pasta (since shapes differ) onto the plate that will be used to “guess-timate” the right amount.  You also need to consider the heartiness of the sauce and determine if more or less should be served- lighter the sauce =  more, heavier a little less.

 

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Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe&romanesco
  • time
    45 min to 1 hour
  • serves
    6
  • skill level
    Easy

Ingredients

  • optional

Directions

1
Done

Vegetables

Add about 7 cups (about 1.5 litres) water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken bouillon cubes and mix well.

2
Done

Place the broccoli rabe in water and cook until tender, should take about 4-5 minutes but test. You do not want them mushy, keep a little crunch to the bite.

3
Done

Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside. Save the water.

4
Done

Add the romanesco florets to the same pot of boiling water. Cook 4-6 minutes until tender but once again with a slight crunch.

5
Done

Drain romanesco from the water, and add to the bowl with the broccoli rabe, toss gently together.

6
Done

Pasta

In a large saucepan, bring at least 4 quarts (about 2 litres) water to a boil.

7
Done

Add a generous bit of salt- or a general rule is 1 heaping tablespoon for each pound of pasta. The water should be "slightly less salty than the sea."

8
Done

Cook orecchiette pasta according to directions on package- minus one minute. You want the pasta al dente but remember it will also cook a little in the sauce.

9
Done

When pasta is almost cooked, take one cup or mugful of the pasta water, set aside. I use the water to help bind and loosen the sauce if more liquid is needed.

10
Done

Drain pasta in a colander.

11
Done

Finish

Add the olive oil and butter to a large saute pan or sauce pan-one large enough to work with both the pasta and the vegetables. Melt over gentle heat.

12
Done

Add the garlic cloves, and cook until the garlic is slightly browned, mixing around to release the flavor into the oil. Then remove garlic from pan.

13
Done

Add your vegetables to the pan, toss well to nicely coat.

14
Done

Add half the pasta, and half the cheese to the pan, toss well. Then add the other half and toss. Working in batches makes it easier to mix, and assures that the flavors combine. If you feel like it needs more liquid to help coat the pasta, add a few tablespoons of the pasta water.

15
Done

Add the zest of lemon, mix well. Place pasta in a warm serving bowl or individual dishes.

16
Done

Sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and some more Pecorino Romano cheese. Perfetto!

17
Done

Optional

Serve with a side of Pecorino Romano grated cheese.