Orecchiette alle cime di rapa

The perfect recipe of a Pugliese doc.

If you are not a fan of winter, this dish will be your consolation! The best period is from December until the end of February, because “the top of Cime di Rapa need cold temperatures to be cut”.

It is possible to garnish the dish with the “cacio dei poveri” (cheese of the poor), which the farmers created with crumbled old bread and sautéed in a pan with a little olive oil, to toast it and give an illusion of cheese (cacio).

Well, ready to get your hands in the dough?


  • 400g durum wheat flour semolina Senatore Cappelli
  • 200g of warm water
  • a pinch of salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2kg of Turnip tops – Cime di Rapa
  • 2 anchovies in salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 red pepper

Procedure for Orecchiette

On a wooden cutting board, make a fountain with durum wheat flour semolina.
At the beginning, knead the semolina by hand slowly pouring the water slowly. Then add salt and oil and continue to work the dough.
Then it goes on for 8-10 minutes, working with the palms of the hands. Massage it until a smooth, homogeneous, elastic dough is obtained, forming a nice smooth ball.
Always on the same chopping board, let it rest for 15 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
Then with a knife, form small loaves about 8-10 cm long.
Cut each small loaf like gnocchetti, small pieces of one centimetre.
With a smooth table knife or even better with a knife to spread the butter, lightly press on the gnocchetti bringing it towards you, helping yourself with some semolina to be sprinkled on the cutting board. You will get some small shells.
Once these shells are formed, which are then what Puglian call cavatelli, one by one turn them over themselves and place them on a finger.
Once finished leave them dry on the cutting board for about one hour.

Procedure for Orecchiette

Start to clean the turnip greens, Cime di Rapa, removing the larger fibrous leaves and select the florets and the smaller tender leaves. Once the tops are made, wash and dry them. Let’s put aside.
Meanwhile, place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to boil.
In a saucepan, pour 100g of extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic cut in half. Still, do not light the fire.
Then clean 2 sardines in salt and leave them in the water for 10 minutes. You obtain the fillets and put them in the pan with oil and garlic.
Now light the fire to a minimum, turn off when the sardines are completely melted. It will take more or less 8 minutes. Turn off and remove the garlic. If you wish, add a little bit of chilli.
Put the salt in the pot of boiling water and cook the turnip tops. When you put the vegetables in the water, it stops boiling. When the boil resumes, the orecchiette are added for about 5 minutes.
Drain well leaving aside a little cooking water and, in a bowl, put the orecchiette and drained tops, half seasoning of oil and sardines, cooking water and proceed to cream.