Pasta with Broccoli Rabe & all the Salty Italian things that make it good

This is a winter pasta that I make every 2 weeks or so because I love these flavors together and it always makes me feel good when I’m eating pasta with something green. While living in Italy, I really acquired a love for bitter vegetables. We ate so many varieties of radicchio grown in the family greenhouse throughout the winter.

I think broccoli rabe is about as bitter as Americans like to get, but I don’t think most people know how to put those Italian salty things play so nicely with this bitter green from the rapini family.

In Italy it is traditional to use orecchiette pasta with broccoli or cauliflower. I also found that it was really tasty with a calamarata shaped pasta. When I was eating this pasta at lunch, baby Leo started kicking and doing somersaults in my tummy. I’m guessing he’s going to like this dish too!

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe & all the Salty Italian things that make it good

Recipe by Colleen BeckettCourse: Pasta, Recipes


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (just cut off and discard the very end of the stems, then roughly chop up the washed bunch)

  • 200-225 grams orecchiette or calamarata pasta

  • The musts
  • Handful grated pecorino romano

  • red pepper flakes (to your liking)

  • lemon to taste

  • 2-6 anchovies in olive oil (to your liking)

  • 1 garlic clove (placed in whole then removed after it flavors the olive oil)

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • The extras
  • handful green olives (I like the ones they premake at Whole Foods with lemon rind and garlic, perfect for this pasta, i just cut everything up, including the lemon rinds and throw it in)

  • Toasted bread crumbs to throw on top the dish (texture)


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  • Meanwhile wash and cut up the broccoli rabe, discarding the very ends of the bunch and roughly chop up the rest of the bunch.
  • Add 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a saucepan, a whole clove of garlic, red pepper flake, anchovy & chopped green olives (if using). Cook over low heat for the time is takes the pasta to cook (discard the garlic clove at the end).
  • Grate a handful of pecorino romano cheese and set aside, you will add this into the pot at the very end.
  • When the water reaches a boil, add just a tiny amount of salt since there will be so much in the sauce. Add the broccoli rabe and pasta together into the boiling water, then cook according to the pasta package time. The broccoli rabe will get soft and tender while it cooks with the pasta and also add flavor.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain the broccoli rabe and pasta and pour it back into the cooking pot. Add the saucepan full of your sauce to the pot along with a squeeze of lemon then the grated pecorino and stir together.
  • Serve in pasta bowls and enjoy immediately!

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