For a pleasant change of pace, we toss crisp, golden bread crumbs with the pasta instead of the usual grated cheese. If you don't have orecchiette, replace them with shells, bow ties, rotelle, or fusilli.
In a medium pot of boiling, salted water, cook the broccoli rabe until almost done, about 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over moderate heat. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove. Wipe out the pan.
In the same pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all the fat. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil in the frying pan over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe and cook, stirring occasionally, until just done, about 3 minutes longer.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the orecchiette until done, about 15 minutes. Drain and toss with the bread crumbs, bacon, broccoli rabe, and salt.
Fresh Bread Crumbs: The quickest way to make fresh bread crumbs is to tear up a few slices of French or Italian bread and whir them in the food processor. No need to remove the crust.
Wine Recommendation: The bitter bite of the broccoli rabe and the pungent garlic in this dish both require a crisp white wine to act as a neutral foil. Try a pinot grigio from Friuli for good effect.
Quick From Scratch Italian