Nancy's Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Tomatoes

This is one of Nancy’s favorite pasta recipes. She was inspired to use broccoli rabe in the dish because it reminded her of Aunt Caroline, with memories of her delicious cooking including all her broccoli rabe recipes. This has become one of Leigh Ann and Ashlee’s favorites.


1 lb. Broccoli Rabe, Trimmed and Cut into 2” Pieces
1 lb. Orecchiette Pasta
8 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs
6 Garlic Cloves, Sliced Thin
1 lb. Cherry Tomatoes, Cut in Half
¼ Cup Red Peppers, Diced
¼ Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper to Taste


Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and orecchiete pasta to the pot, and cook according to package directions (approx. 8-10 minutes). Reserve  ¼ cup of pasta water and drain pasta and broccoli rabe. While the pasta is cooking, heat 3 Tbsp. of oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for approx. 5 minutes, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden. Separately, heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden, approx. 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red peppers, red pepper flakes and the remaining 3 Tbsp. of oil. Raise the heat and cook, covered for approx. 5 minutes, until tomatoes begin to burst. When the pasta and broccoli rabe are ready, add them to the tomato mixture along with the reserved pasta water. Cook over medium heat for approx. 2 minutes, until flavors are combined and sauce thickens. Transfer to a serving dish and top with toasted breadcrumbs.