This dish belongs to the tradition and the cuisine of Apulia. Rapini is made of edible leaves and small, broccoli-like florets. In Italy, it is called cime di rapa (literally meaning â€śturnip topsâ€ť) or rapini. In Naples it is known as friarielli. In Rome broccoletti and in Portugal and Spain grelos.
Ingredients for 350 grams of orecchiette
250 gr whole wheat flour
1 tbs of evo oil
red hot chili pepper
1 garlic clove
1 kg of rapini
Fill a bowl with cold water. Hold the rapini bunch by the stems and wash them removing any dirt in the leaves. Shake off the excess water. Trim off the tough stem ends with a knife and throw them away. Keep aside the leaves and the flowers. Bring a pot of salted water to a full boil. Add the rabe and boil for 10 minutes and add the flowers. Cook for other 5 minutes. Drain the boiled rapini.
Put the flour on a wooden surface and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until dough is formed. You may need more or less water. Place the dough on a surface and knead it like bread until smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into long dowels about 3 to 4 inches thick. Cut the dough into flat disks about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Press the centre of each disk with your thumb to form saucer-shaped pasta. Place the orecchiette on a wooden surface dusted with flour. Make the pasta dry for 4-6 hours or for an entire night. Orecchiette can be frozen for several months.
In a large fry pan the red hot chili pepper and the garlic in the oil. When the color of the garlic becomes light brown remove it and add rapini. Drain orecchiette and pour it into the pan. Saute for 1 minute and serve with a drizzle of Apulian evo oil.
You can prepare this dish with or without Italian sausage. The broccoli rabe has such an intense and wonderful flavor that the orecchiette will be delicious either way.