Broccoli Rabe with White Beans and Ditalini

This simple weeknight pasta features a classic southern Italian combination of ingredients. Each contributes unique character, fruity olive oil, pungent garlic, spicy pepper flakes, bitter broccoli rabe, creamy white beans, wheaty pasta, funky pecorino cheese and tangy lemon juice. For ease, we use canned beans and cook everything together in a single pot—no need to boil the pasta separately.

Don’t discard the leaves from the broccoli rabe unless they’re bruised or damaged. The leaves are tender and flavorful, so leave them attached and cut them into 2-inch pieces with the stalks.

A couple of things we did differently was stir in the entire cup of grated parm instead of half, as noted in Step 3. Then we put a lid on it and let it sit for 10 minutes which allowed the moisture to get sucked up into the ditalini. Additional parmesan was available to top the dish, if desired.

Broccoli Rabe with White Beans and Ditalini

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) ditalini pasta
  • 15 1/2 oz. can cannellini OR great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice


  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, combine the oil, garlic, pepper flakes and broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rabe leaves begin to wilt, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in 3 cups water and bring to a boil, then stir in the ditalini, beans, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Return to a boil, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ditalini is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in half of the cheese and the lemon juice; if the mixture appears dry, stir in water as needed.
  4. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Adapted by Rose Attabaugh for Milk Street


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