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Meatless Monday: Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe

Maybe you’ve never heard of this little disc-shaped pasta. It gets its name from its shape — it resembles a little ear — and is common in Southern Italy. You’re sure to love the simplicity and taste of orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe. It’s a perfect start for a new year of Meatless Monday meals!

Orecchiette with broccoli rabe

Bring on the good eating habits!

The holidays are winding down and as much as we love the cookies, drinks and decadent meals of the season, it’s time to get back into a healthier eating pattern.

Did you make a resolution to eat better in the New Year? Perhaps you decided that you’ll participate in Meatless Monday and eliminate meat from your meals at least one day a week? If so, this is the perfect dish for either resolution!

A trifecta: easy, tasty, healthy!

It doesn’t get much easier (or tastier) than putting together a simple, healthy and meatless pasta dish. You know pasta is versatile, but have you ever had it with broccoli rabe? You might see broccoli rabe referred to as rapini. It grows in long, thin and leafy stalks with small florets (that look like the florets of regular broccoli) and has a slightly bitter taste. It’s loaded with minerals, folate, calcium and iron and is available nearly year-round.

You heard it here first! This dish is tasty, healthy and great for a Meatless Monday meal!

Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe recipe

Serves 4


  • 2 pounds broccoli rabe, rinsed and trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to shave over top as garnish


  1. Boil salted water in a large pot. Once boiling, add the broccoli rabe to blanch it (allow it to cook for three or four minutes). After blanching, leave the water in the pot, but transfer the broccoli to an ice bath for a few minutes; then drain it and rough chop it. Set it aside.
  2. Using the leftover cooking water from the broccoli, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. When cooked, drain the pasta and add it to a large serving bowl. Drizzle it with two tablespoons of the olive oil and toss it to coat the pasta.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about three minutes. Add the broccoli to the pan, and then the crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, and sauté for another three minutes.
  4. Transfer the broccoli rabe mixture to the bowl with the pasta and mix to combine the ingredients. Serve immediately with shaved Parmesan over top of individual plates.

If you have committed to going meatless at least once a week, good for you! You’ll be on track to potentially reducing your risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. You’ll also help cut back on resources like water and fuel as well as help to reduce greenhouse gases.

Try these Meatless Monday meals

Introducing Meatless Monday
Saffron pilaf with grilled vegetables
Meatless Monday Mediterranean style
Start the week with a pizza party!

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