Le Sirenuse - Albergo di Positano


20.04.2024 RECIPES

In part two of a series that began with this indulgent babà recipe, we turn to a dish that is close to the heart of many in Naples and the Amalfi Coast, yet rarely makes it onto restaurant menus – perhaps because it is considered to be too simple, too ‘home cooking’ to attract serious attention.


But Antonino 'Tanino' Guida, one of executive chef Gennaro Russo’s most able and trusted deputies, loves it for this very reason. “There’s nothing I like better”, he says, “than coming home from work when it’s still light and spending some time in my orto, my kitchen garden. When I’ve finished tending and watering the plants, I might grab a handful of tender broccoli shoots – what we call friarielli in these parts – and use them to whip up the simplest of pasta dishes for the family dinner”.


In this part of southern Italy, broccoli rabe (sometimes also called ‘turnip tops’ in English) flourishes when it’s not too hot and not too cold – in spring, and again in the fall, allowing for two crops each year. For this recipe, you’re looking for the tender young shoots and florets. Some of the smaller leaves can also be included, but not too many.



serves 4


360g (13oz) good-quality spaghetti

400g (14oz) washed broccoli rabe (rapini) shoots and florets

4 anchovy fillets (preserved in olive oil)

a clove of garlic

A pinch of finely chopped chili pepper

50g (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil


Begin by heating up the water for the pasta in a capacious saucepan (calculate at least a liter of water per 100g/3½oz of pasta). Next, heat some oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan (cast iron is good), add the peeled and lightly crushed clove of garlic, add the anchovy fillets and stir to dissolve, regulating the heat to prevent the oil spitting. Now that the pasta water is boiling, throw in the broccoli rabe florets (it’s okay if a few of the upper leaves are attached), leave for around three minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and add to the garlic and anchovy oil with a ladleful of the boiling water. Stir once, then take off the flame.


Now add the spaghetti, cook until al dente, and drain, making sure that you’ve first set aside a cupful of the cooking water. Turn the heat back on under the anchovy and broccoli rabe sauce, add the drained spaghetti, and stir to amalgamate. If it seems a little dry, add some more of the cooking water. Last of all, sprinkle on the chili pepper and stir again to coat the spaghetti in the creamy sauce, adding as you do so a spiral of extra-virgin olive oil.

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