Orecchiette, Recchitelle or Strascinati?

Retichelle and strascinati are two other names of orecchiette alle cime di rapa (Orecchiette with turnip tops). This recipe is traditional from Apulia’s region especially from the province of Bari. It is a typical dish from a rural tradition, simple but with a unique taste matching strong flavours. It is also a great dish for vegetarians and vegans if you omit the anchovies. The tradition wants handmade orecchiette. For the excellent success of this dish, it is essential to cook pasta and turnip tops together.


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A bit of history

The tradition of orecchiette alle cime di rapa goes back to the Medieval time, around the 12th and 13th centuries, the period of Norman-Swabian domination. Already at that time, an artisanal pasta made from Apulian durum wheat was produced, which was circular and hollowed out in the center with the pressure of the thumb. Once ready, it was dried so that it could be stored for longer periods. Considered a dowry, with the inheritance passed from mother to daughter, orecchiette then spread to the rest of Apulia. We owe the name we know today to the Angevins in the 13th century.


As a famous recipe, orecchiette alle cime di rapa has a lot of variants. The most known, with the same ingredients are the orecchiette alle cime di rapa with sausage. There are many other variants, as for example orecchiette broccoli e acciughe broccoli and anchovies, and orecchiette cime di rapa and cherry tomatoes. Some add cacio cheese, walnuts, chili, bacon, or fish as cuttlefish or shrimps.


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The traditional recipe

  • 1 kg turnip tops
  • 50 g bread crumbs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 anchovy fillets in oil
  • oil
  • salt


  • 100 g water
  • 200 g re-milled durum wheat semolina
  • salt

To prepare this recipe, first of all, you have to pour the re-milled durum wheat semolina on the table and give it a fountain shape. Add a pinch of salt, in the center pour the water and start working it with your fingers to incorporate the flour and then knead to a smooth and elastic dough. Give it a round shape and cover it with a cloth. Let it rest for 15 minutes. After this time, take a piece of the dough and knead the piece to make a loaf about 1 cm thick. Using the pastry cutter, cut it into pieces about 1 cm thick. Use a knife with a smooth blade and give them a shells shape. Continue until all the dough is used up.

For the turnip tops, start removing and washing the outer leaves. Dry them well and keep them aside. Put a pot full of salted water to boil (we’ll use this to cook the turnip tops and the Orecchiette). Meanwhile, in a pan pour the oil (half dose) and the breadcrumbs mix and let them toast over medium heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, put in the cleaned turnip greens for about 5 minutes. Then add the orecchiette, let them cook for the 5 minutes and mix gently.

In the meantime put in another pan the remaining oil, the cloves of garlic, the anchovies and mix. It will only take a few minutes for the sauté to take on flavour and when it is ready, you can remove the garlic and turn off the heat.

After the orecchiette has been cooked for 5 minutes, drain them and place them together with the turnip tops directly into the pan with the anchovies. Once ready, turn off the heat and serve your orecchiette with turnip tops, adding a drizzle of oil and toasted bread crumbs at the very end.

Enjoy this delicacy and make a repeat performance – you won’t regret it!


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Cover photo from Youtube