Orecchiette with cavolo nero, garlic and pecorino recipe

Orecchiette with cavolo nero, garlic and pecorino
This simple green sauce provides a hit of colour in the midst of winter Credit: Haarala Hamilton & Valerie Berry for The Telegraph

Ear-shaped orecchiette is often served with cime di rapa sprout tops in Italy, but it works well with cavolo nero or any other brassica.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes




  • 75ml olive oil, plus a little extra to serve
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300g cavolo nero, stalks removed and discarded
  • 375g orecchiette
  • 40g pecorino, grated


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook for three minutes before adding the cavolo nero. Season and add 100ml of water.
  2. Cook for five minutes until the cavolo nero has softened, then transfer to a blender and blitz to a smooth purée.
  3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the cooking water, and return it to the saucepan along with the cavolo nero purée. Toss together until combined, adding a little of the cooking water to loosen the sauce.
  5. Check the seasoning and finish with the pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil.
  6. Serve immediately.