Orecchiette con le Cime di Rape (with turnip tops) is the most popular dish in Puglia, especially in the province of Bari and Brindisi. The locals say that Cime di rape contains lot of nutrients that could help fight against cancers, this could be why it’s so popular and features a least once or twice a week in many homes.
For this recipe you can use fresh or dried Orecchiette pasta, which is made from semolina. The turnip tops are cooked with the Orecchiette so that the pasta takes on some of their flavour straight away. Then, they are stir fried in olive oil, garlic, anchovies and a pinch of chilli.
Recipe: Orecchiette con le Cime di Rape
350g Orecchiette dry Pasta or 500g fresh
1kg Turnip Tops
1 clove garlic
8 Anchovies fillets in oil
1 tsp Chili powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Throughly clean the turnip tops and remove the external hard stems and fibrous leaves (1), keep the inner, smaller and tender leaves (2) and set aside the leaves and tender stems (3).
Remove the florets from the core (4), peal the outer part of the core and discard (5), dice the internal part which is white and tender (6).
After dividing the leaves from the florets (7), bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then add the leaves (8) and Orecchiette (9). Cook these together for about 10 minutes. If you use fresh Orecchiette, add this to the water and greens 5 minutes later as fresh pasta requires less cooking time. The Orecchiette and turnip tops should be al dente.
Meanwhile, place a large frying pan on the hob, add about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (10), heat gently and add the crushed garlic (11), once sautéed, turn off the heat and add the anchovies, stir until dissolved (12).
Add the florets and chopped stems to the Orecchiette and turnip tops (13), cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, drain well, and retain some of the cooking water. Add about half a cup of the cooking water along with the Orecchiette and turnip tops to the frying pan (14). Stir over a medium heat for a few minutes to incorporate all the flavours. Add more cooking water if it’s too dry. Turn off the heat and add chilli powder to taste (15). Serve immediately.
(Recipe and pictures adapted from Giallo Zafferano)