Pasta With Broccoli Rabe, Peppered Bacon, & Breadcrumbs

My husband could eat pasta every day, and growing up in an Italian family that served pasta most days, if we go more than two or three days without pasta I swear that he goes into withdrawal. Although I too love pasta, I get bored making the same pasta dishes week after week so am always trying to change things up.

Orecchiette with broccoli rabe is one of my husband’s favorite pasta dishes. This week I decided to use large fusilli pasta in place of the orecchiette, and I added strips of peppered bacon. To serve the pasta I sprinkled on some spicy fried breadcrumbs along with shavings of sharp Pecorino cheese.

My husband got his pasta with broccoli rabe which pleased him, and I was able to try the addition of a few new ingredients. We both loved the smoky flavor that the bacon brought to the dish; I thought the breadcrumbs added a nice texture, and the pecorino cheese shavings finished off the plate perfectly.

In place of the pasta variety I used, regular fusilli would work fine, as would traditional orecchiette, or even rigatoni. If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, you could replace it with spinach. I keep stale Italian bread unhand to make my own breadcrumbs, but if any coarse-textured bread would work in this recipe.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Pasta With Broccoli Rabe, Peppered Bacon, & Breadcrumbs

Pasta With Broccoli Rabe, Peppered Bacon, & Breadcrumbs

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Six Slices Peppered Bacon Cut Into 1/2 Inch Pieces
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
  • 3/4 Pound Fusilli Pasta
  • 1 Bunch Broccoli Rabe


  • 1/2 Cup Coarse Fresh Breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

To Serve:

  • Shaved Aged Pecorino Cheese


  1. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the bacon.
  2. Cook until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and chili flakes and cook another minute or two.
  4. Heat a large pot of slated water to boil.
  5. While the water is heating, wash the broccoli rabe and coarsely chop the top.
  6. Use a sharp, small knife to peel the stems and chop these into 1-inch pieces.
  7. Make the breadcrumbs by combining the breadcrumbs, oil, salt, pepper and oregano in a hot frying pan.
  8. Stir constantly over medium heat until the crumbs are crispy and brown, about 5 minutes, then set aside.
  9. Once boiling, add the pasta to the water and cook halfway.
  10. Add the broccoli rabe to the pasta and water and continue to cook until the pasta is “al dente”.
  11. Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe well, then add it into the frying pan with the bacon and oil mixture.
  12. Over high heat, stirring constantly, mix the ingredients until piping hot.
  13. Serve the pasta in individual bowls, topped with some of the breadcrumbs and cheese shavings.

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