This typical dish from Puglia, the region in the south east of Italy where you see the beautiful white trulli houses in the holiday brochures, is one of our customers’ favourite dishes from the menu in our Valvona & Crolla Caffè Bar in Edinburgh.

It’s very easy to make but the better the quality of ingredients you use the better it tastes. I always use our own Fior Fore extra virgin olive oil from Puglia. It is rich, spicy and creamy in flavour and creates a delicious authentic flavour in all my cooking.

Bitter Italian greens like cime di rapa have a very particular flavour but tender stem broccoli works really well too.

Orecchiette are pasta shaped like ‘little ears’ and are made by hand by many of the cooks in this beautiful region of Italy.

We can’t go now to visit, but we can still dream.




200g fresh greens, cimi di rapa, tender stem broccoli or spinach

4-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic

A chopped piece of dried chilli

250g fresh Italian pork sausages

8-10 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered

360g dried orecchiette or small chunky pasta

Flat leaf parsley

Grated pecorino or parmigiano


Prepare the greens, remove all the coarse stalks, chop roughly and wash well in cold water.

Add to boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Set aside.

Skin the sausages and chop into small pieces, about 4 cm.

When ready to eat, prepare another large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and stir well.

Chunky pasta usually takes about 10 minutes to cook, just enough time to make the sauce. Orecchiette can stick together, so stir the pasta frequently.

Warm the olive oil in a deep, wide frying pan.

Add the chopped garlic and chopped chilli and sauté to release the flavours.

Add the chopped sausages and brown in the oil at a good heat.

Once browned and cooked through, add the tomatoes and the cooked greens and toss everything together.

Test the pasta. When it is almost cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer it into the frying pan and stir it around in the sauce.

The extra cooking water clinging to it will add the moisture to the sauce. Toss everything together and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, adding another tablespoon or so of the cooking water if required. The starch in the cooking water helps to add substance to the sauce.

Taste and season with fresh black pepper.

Drizzle with some more extra virgin oil and scatter with chopped flat leaf parsley.

Serve with lots of grated pecorino cheese.

Mary Contini is n author and broadcaster and director of Valvona & Crolla.

Easy Peasy: Real Cooking for Kids by Mary Contini and Pru Irvine is out now

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