Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette with Lemon Garlic Bread Crumbs, an easy comfort food pasta recipe featuring fresh greens, lemon, garlic, and homemade breadcrumbs with grated parmesan cheese. Good for your soul!

Two plates of pasta with orechiette and broccoli rabe with two glasses of ed wine on a grey table.

There are foods that nourish your body, and then there are foods that nourish your soul.

Pasta may not always be the most nutrient rich food choice, but I believe that it is good for the soul. I cannot resist a glass of red wine and a delicious plate of pasta with fresh vegetables in an oil-based spicy sauce. For me, this is happiness on a plate.

If pasta is a “happy food” for you as well, then you’ll love this broccoli rabe orechiette recipe. With freshly toasted lemon garlic breadcrumbs over a bed of broccoli rabe orecchiette, this recipe is perfect recipe for rainy movie nights.

A flatlay of ingredients for pasta including orechiette, bread crumbs, broccoli rabe, lemon, salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese.

Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette with Lemon Garlic Bread Crumbs: Tips, Tricks, and Tools

This orechiette pasta dish recipe is simple three step recipe that may seem complex, but comes together in under 20 minutes.

The first step is to toast the bread crumbs. I created my own bread crumbs by putting two pieces of ciabatta bread in a food processor and then toasting them in a cast iron skillet with lemon zest and garlic powder. You can essentially add whatever spices and flavor you’d like; try adding dry herbs like basil or thyme for a herby fresh flavor.

The next step is to cook the pasta and create the spicy oil. Orecchiette is a small disk-shaped pasta, but it can be quite thick so sometimes it may take as long (or longer) than traditional thinner noodles like spaghetti. While the pasta is cooking, create the spicy oil by heat olive oil in a pan and adding garlic and red pepper flakes. I alway like to add a fresh vegetable to my pastas and broccoli rabe was a great addition as it lends a bit of crunch and body (as well as a bit of iron and fiber!)

The final step is to build the pasta. When the pasta is done and drained, add it to the oil and top the mixture with the toasted bread crumbs. Add lemon juice, parmesan and whatever other toppings you’d like (nuts? seeds?) and enjoy!

Recommended tools: I highly recommend having a cast iron skillet on hand, it’s a staple kitchen tool and a workhorse in our kitchen. It is also helpful to have a food processor or handheld blender, however you can skip this step and just buy bread crumbs that are already crumbled (just watch out for the high salt content in packaged and flavored breadcrumbs!).

A plate of orechiette pasta in a white bowl with a gold fork and a glass of red wine.

I hope you enjoy this comfort food pasta recipe as much as we do, we’ve actually made it at least three times now and it has now become a regular pasta night recipe.

Are you looking for more delicious pasta recipes? Try our Vegan Fusilli Pasta Salad, which can be served hot or cold, and our Pasta with Clams in White Wine Garlic Sauce, which is one of the most popular recipes on the blog. We love pasta and can’t wait to share more of our favorite dishes!

Did you make this Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette with Lemon Garlic Bread Crumbs? Leave a comment and recipe rating to let us know what you think! Save this recipe for later to your favorite pasta Pinterest board and tag me on Instagram so I can see your pasta creations!

A plate of orechiette pasta with a gold fork on a white and black napkin with red wine.
Yield: 2 servings

Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette

A plate of orechiette pasta with a gold fork on a white and black napkin with red wine.

Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette with Lemon Garlic Bread Crumbs, an easy comfort food pasta recipe featuring fresh greens, lemon, garlic, and homemade breadcrumbs with grated parmesan cheese. Good for your soul!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


Toasted Breadcrumbs

  • 2 slices ciabatta bread
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette

  • 2 cups orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • ⅛ cup parmesan cheese


Lemon Garlic Bread Crumbs

  1. Cut ciabatta bread into small cubes. Add to a food processor or small handheld blender and pulse until bread is broken into crumbs.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat (do not add oil or liquid). Once heated, add breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and garlic powder and mix until lightly toasted, about two minutes. Do not overcook or the breadcrumbs will have a burnt bread toast.

Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette

  1. Bring 6 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a rolling boil. Add orecchiette and cook until al dente, about 6-8 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
  2. In the meantime, heat oil in large pan. Add garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic starts to brown and becomes aromatic, about 1 minute. Add broccoli rabe and saute until soft.
  3. Add drained orecchiette to pan and stir to combine. Add a small amount of pasta water and continue stirring until pasta liquid starts to thicken.
  4. Transfer pasta to plate, top with lemon juice, bread crumbs, and parmesan and enjoy!


  • Leftovers & Storage: Store pasta and bread crumbs separately in the refrigerator for up to four day, to keep bread crumbs dry. Shave new parmesan cheese when reheated.
  • Nutrition: This Broccoli Rabe Breadcrumb Orecchiette is an indulgent dish meant to comfort your body and your mind, and is not considered a “healthy” dish. However, pasta has been known to nourish the soul, so in that sense this dish is very healthy. Enjoy it with a glass of wine and a dear friend.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 serving

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 433Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 397mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 13g