Orecchiette with turnip greens

Orecchiette with turnip greens is one of the symbolic dishes of the Apulian gastronomic tradition, especially in the province of Bari but is prepared throughout the region. It is a first course that has origins in the peasant tradition, simple but really tasty, a must on the menus of many restaurants. In this dish, the delicacy and roughness of fresh pasta marries beautifully with the strong (and sometimes bitter) flavor of turnip greens and anchovies.

The history of orecchiette with turnip greens dates back to the medieval period, between the 12th and 13th centuries, the period of Norman-Swabian domination, in the area of Sannicandro di Bari. Once ready, the pasta was dried so that it could be preserved for periods more or less long, even on ships leaving for long voyages. Considered a dowry, with the inheritance passed from mother to daughter, orecchiette would have spread to the rest of Puglia and Basilicata.

Orecchiette with turnip greens
Orecchiette with turnip greens ©katrinshine via Canva

Recipe of orecchiette with turnip greens


  • 500 g of orecchiette
  • 1 kg of turnip greens
  • 10 anchovy fillets in oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • chili pepper to taste


  1. First, clean the turnip greens and then place them in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the orecchiette to the turnip tops to cook them together.
  3. Separately, in a pan, fry the garlic and anchovy fillets until they melt.
  4. To taste, add chilli and salt.
  5. Drain the orecchiette and turnip tops and sauté them in the pan with the anchovies until all the ingredients are mixed.

In combination with this recipe, you can enjoy a full-bodied and soft white wine that tempers the bitterness of the turnip greens.

An example is the equally Apulian Verdeca IGT from Valle d’Itria or the Bianco d’Alessano.

orecchiette pugliesi ©Ne_Cloud via Canva
Salento Orecchiette: the original recipe

The symbol of Puglia in Italy and around the world are orecchiette, a fresh pasta format, which is prepared by hand, with a round and concave shape.

Pasta fatta in casa
Homemade Apulian pasta

The dough is made only with water, eggs are rarely added as is the tradition of Emilian or Piedmontese pasta.

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Tiella of Bari

Tiella of Bari is a typical Apulian dish made with rice, potatoes, mussels and cherry tomatoes, prepared in the oven in the traditional terracotta pan.