Orecchiette with turnip greens is one of the first dishes best known by the tradition of Apulian cuisine.
It consists of durum wheat semolina pasta prepared by hand with salt and water, whose characteristic shape is reminiscent of that of small ears.
You can taste them freshly prepared, or with natural drying for a couple of days. The housewives in the ancient area of Bari realize "l recchjtèdd" made by hand as tradition dictates.
The Turnip green (Brassica rapa sylvestris) is a typical vegetable of southern Italy present on the tables.
In addition to its goodness and versatility in the kitchen, "cima di Rapa" (literally "turnip top"), so called from its use before flowering, in order to taste its tenderness, presents itself as a vegetable with a strong flavor. There are several specialities, some earlier and others belated, thanks to which you can taste fresh turnip greens, all winter long, until April. They are appreciated from the nutritional point of view as rich in iron, detoxifying properties, source of folic acid, mineral salts with low calories.
Going back in the history of orecchiette with turnip greens, the tradition dates back to the medieval period of the 12th and 13th centuries, a period of Norman-Swabian domination, in the area of Sannicandro di Bari (*). Already at that time, in fact, there was produced an artisan pasta made from Pugliese durum wheat, with a circular shape and a hollow shape in the center with the pressure of the thumb. Once ready, the pasta was dried so that it could be stored for longer or shorter periods, even on ships that left for long journeys. Considered dowry, with the past inheritance of mother to daughter, the orecchiette would have spread in the rest of Puglia and Basilicata. To the Angevins in the thirteenth century we owe the name to the pasta we know today.
Ingredients for 2:
- 200 grams of turnip greens already cleaned
- 150 grams of fresh orecchiette durum wheat
- 2 anchovies in oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 70 ml of olive oil
- 50 gr of breadcrumbs
- 1 chili pepper
- Clean the turnips by removing the stem, ie the hardest part of the vegetable, leaving only the leaves and the tops to be in turn selected and cut. Wash them thoroughly to remove any residual earth or small insects and boil them for 10 minutes in plenty of salted water
- Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, fry the garlic in the oil and when it is golden brown and has released a good smell, almost roasted, add the anchovies and chopped chilli. Just last add the crumbs and leave to brown for a few seconds taking care not to burn them
- In the same cooking water as turnip greens, pour the fresh orecchiette cooking for at least 4/5 minutes. Then, using a skimmer, drain and mix everything directly in the pan for another 1 minute over low heat.
As traditional recipe, the Orecchiette with turnip greens are flavored with a few anchovy fillets and chilli pepper, sautéed with a crunchy note of sprinkled breadcrumbs browned in a pan.
Arriving to visit Bari an unmissable event is to enjoy this noble dish in the best inns of the historic center. As a variant turns out to be a course for vegetarians and vegans, if anchovies are omitted.
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