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Orecchiette with turnip tops, bacon and lemon

Cime di rapa, a variety of turnip popular in Italy (where it translates to turnip tip), is a hardy green that's ideal for tossing through pasta for a quick and nutritious meal.

By Paulette Whitney
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 15 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"Cime di rapa is a beautiful variety of turnip bred for its greens and mildly bitter, broccoli-like flower buds, rather than its roots," says Whitney. "If you can't find cime di rapa, the green tops of Japanese turnips are a great substitute. We've had adventures making orecchiette, the traditional accompaniment for cime di rapa, in our kitchen, and our 10-year-old, Heidi, was the only one to master the technique of scraping tiny bits of dough with the back of a knife to make the 'little ears'. In the absence of a handy 10-year-old, dried orecchiette is a great idea."


  • 500 gm dried orecchiette
  • 200 gm streaky bacon rashers, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch cime di rapa (see note), thinly sliced
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 20 gm finely grated parmesan


  • 1
    Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (10-15 minutes). Drain, reserving a little water.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, fry bacon with 1 tsp oil in a large frying pan over low heat, stirring often and increasing heat to high once fat has rendered, until crisp (5-6 minutes). Remove from pan, reduce heat to low, then add garlic to pan and fry until fragrant (1 minute). Add cime di rapa and enough reserved pasta water to loosen sauce (about 2-3 tbsp), then cook until greens are just wilted (1 minute). Add lemon rind and season to taste, then add drained pasta, bacon and remaining oil, toss to combine and divide among bowls. Top with parmesan and serve with lemon wedges.


Cime di rapa, also known as broccoli raab, may need to be ordered from greengrocers. Substitute kale, cavolo nero or Japanese turnip tops.
Drink suggestion: Barrel-matured sauvignon blanc. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.

  • undefined: Paulette Whitney