Fresh from living in Italy, I posted a recipe a year ago from a local grocer that I called the Puglia Lady's orecchiette and rabe. It was impossible to mess up there -- simple, healthy and tasty. Somehow it fell short here. Not enough flavor, not enough greens. The problem, I think, is the that 'the rabe here -- and I have been limited to supermarket stuff -- doesn't have the same big bitter taste. This is my attempt to make it right, informed slightly by a trip to Florence where I ordered it in a sort of fancy restaurant. —fisheri
Remove most of the stems from rabe. Cut greens into 2 or 3 inch pieces. Boil and salt water. Blanche the greens for five minutes or so. Drain and set aside.
Heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and anchovies, along with a good pinch of pepperonchino. Saute three minutes or so, until anchovies are dissolved.
Add rabe, stir and saute about 5 minutes so it soaks up the oil. Add a bit of salt. Add chicken broth and vinegar and saute, stirring as needed, till the rabe is tender but by no means mushy. There should be a bit of tasty liquid but not too much.
Boil orecchiete in salted water, watching like a hawk that it doesn't overcook. I recently bought very good orecchiette that was ready three minutes before the recommended cooking time. Drain pasta when done.
Combine pasta and rabe over medium heat for a minute or two. Check for salt. A bit of oil will not hurt.
Serve with generous grating of parmeggiano, a drizzle of oil, black pepper and a little fine sea salt.