broccoli rabe and white bean pasta

Okay, we've been broccoli rabe skeptics for quite some time. Once we had it and it was too bitter, so it got relegated to the veggie black list in our mental food pantry. But second chances are notoriously the Christian thing to do (turn the other cheek?), so weighing the many years of  reports from diehard broccoli rabe pasta evangelists against our flimsy vague memory, Milk Street gave us the opportunity to rethink the situation: broccoli rabe with white beans and ditalini. We actually had some ditalini on hand for the first time this century, a midget macaroni often used in pasta and bean soup, but this could have been replaced by any number of short pasta shapes. We decided to toe the line following their recipe.

To our surprise this was delicious and the broccoli rabe did not contribute any overpowering negative flavor to the mix, in fact they could probably be replaced by ordinary broccoli or even asparagus. The result has that comfort food effect like "pasta e fagioli", which in fact is the category into which it fits as a combo of pasta and beans. The ditali give it that authentic pasta e fagioli feel. This is a keeper. Thanks Chris.

We are big fans of the Pugliese pasta called orecchiette, little ears. And this is where broccoli rabe comes to America. Orecchiette con cime di rapa is the most famous dish from Puglia. Nearly always linked together. We've never made it. Rabe fear. Maybe we should give it a try.


¼ c extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
1 lb broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces (we used only a bunch)
   but keep the tender leaves and chop them up
8 oz (2 c) ditalini pasta
15½ oz can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 oz pecorino romano cheese, finely grated (1 c)
2 T lemon juice


  1. In a large nonstick pot on medium high, combine the oil, garlic, pepper flakes and broccoli rabe. Stir occasionally until the rabe leaves start wilting, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in 3 cups of wter and bring to a boil, then stir in the ditalini, beans, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Return to a boil, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the ditalini is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in half of the cheese and the lemon juice.
  5. If the mixture seems a bit dry, stir in water as needed. Guess.
  6. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  7. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.


  1. Chris did the right thing walking away from America's Test Kitchen, embarking on an exciting journey of world cuisine at Milk Street.
  2. Here is the trigger recipe:
  3. Milk Street is an actual street in Boston. 177 is the street number.
  4. Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa. A recipe.
  5. Illustrations available.
broccolirabepasta.htm: 5-feb-2022 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]