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Cooking + Entertaining

Orecchiette with turnip greens: the original recipe for the typical Apulian dish

Orecchiette with turnip greens: the original recipe for the typical Apulian dish


For 600 g of fresh orecchiette

Durum wheat semolina flour

For the seasoning

extra virgin olive oil

THE orecchiette with turnip greens I am a typical great classic of Apulian cuisineparticularly in the field of bari, known and appreciated throughout Italy. This is a simple and authentic first course, prepared with orecchiette o”recchitelle” in the Apulian dialect, a pasta format made from flour durum wheat flour e waterand a condiment of turnip greenswhose slightly bitter taste is softened by sautéed garlic, oil and chilli and by the tantalizing flavor of anchovies.

Their manufacture is really very simple, but we suggest some secrets for a perfect result. The particularity of this preparation lies in the blanch the turnip greens which occurs at the same time as cooking pasta: the latter, cooking in the same water as the vegetables, it will also absorb all the flavor. Uses fresh turnip greens and avoid frozen foods which tend to soften too much during cooking. Then, drain the still-firm turnip tops and the orecchiette al dente, one minute before the end of cooking, which will be completed directly in the pan, with the turnip tops and sautéed garlic, oil, chilli and anchovies: you will obtain an exquisite dish, excellent to prepare in autumn or winter, periods when these vegetables are in season.

For our recipe, we prepared the fresh homemade orecchiette con durum wheat flour but, if you prefer, you can buy them ready to use, fresh and dried. This pasta format rude e insensitiveso called because it looks like little ears, is perfect because it preserves the flavors perfectly: due to its characteristics, in fact, it lends itself to being seasoned in many ways such as, for example, with meat sauce , as in the case of orecchiette alla barese, but also with sausage and broccoli or with broccoli and bacon.

Find out how to make orecchiettes with turnip greens following the original recipe and, if you like traditional dishes from Puglia, also try strascinati, a type of elongated pasta, and Pancotto del Gargano.

How to prepare orecchiette with turnip greens

To prepare traditional orecchiettes with turnip greens, start by making fresh homemade orecchiettes 1. On the work surface, form the classic fountain of semolina flour, pour the water in the center, add the salt and knead until you obtain a homogeneous dough. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, then shape into loaves about 1 cm in diameter. Cut the loaves into pieces of about 2 cm, slide each piece towards you with your fingers and turn the disc obtained to obtain the classic shell shape.

Once you have shaped the orecchiette, dedicate yourself to cleaning the turnip greens: open the bunch, take one branch at a time, choose the most tender leaves and flowers and remove the toughest, leafless stem. , pulling it out with your hands. 2. Then, put the turnip tops in a colander, rinse them under running cold water and dry them well with a kitchen towel.

Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full of water. 3. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, remove 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peel them, remove the core and chop finely with a knife 4. Also clean 1 or 2 peppers, depending on the degree of spiciness, with a damp cloth and chop them finely.

Transfer the chili to a large skillet with the minced garlic. Also add a drizzle of oil 5 and brown over medium heat.

When the minced garlic is golden brown, add the drained anchovies and cook. Wait for the anchovies to melt and the cooking liquid to become homogeneous, without letting it dry 6. Turn off the heat and keep it aside.

When the water in the pan has reached a boil, add the salt and soak the turnip greens 7. After the first 5 minutes, add the orecchiette and cook for another 7 minutes: taste the orecchiette to monitor the cooking.

Drain the turnip greens and the orecchiettes still al dente using a slotted spoon and transfer them to the pan 8. Cook over high heat for a few minutes, stirring and adding a ladle of cooking water to mix the sauce with the pasta.

Transfer to a serving platter and top with a drizzle of raw oil. Orecchiettes with turnip greens are ready to be served and eaten hot 9.

Tips and variations

If you use the dry orecchiette plan a cooking time around 12 minutes: we therefore advise you to add the turnip greens and the orecchiette together and drain them when the vegetables are still firm and the orecchiette is almost cooked.

To reduce the slightly bitter taste of turnip greens, the advice is to let them soak for a few hours in a bowl with water and the juice of half a lemon: after the time indicated, simply drain them and proceed according to the recipe.

For an appetizing and delicious twist, try adding a handful of breadcrumbs, previously grilled in a pan with a drizzle of oil. For an even more incisive taste, you can however enrich the dish with pecorino oh grated parmesan cheese.

If you don’t like the strong flavor of the anchovy you can omit it, or if you prefer a less spicy version you can use a little chili powder or omit it altogether.


It is advisable to prepare the orecchiette with turnip tops and eat them hot at the time. If there are any left, you can store them in the refrigerator, in a special airtight container, for maximum A day.

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