No longer is spinach your only option when it comes to leafy green vegetables. A quick stroll through the produce department of your local grocery store will prove this. Displays are filled with peppery arugula, slightly bitter kale and crunchy escarole, to name just a few.
These days my favorite is rapini or as we Italians like to call it broccoli rabe. Known for its slightly bitter taste, rabe is delicious sauteed with a little olive oil & garlic. But the way I like to eat it most is paired with sausage & mixed with pasta. It's simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner and impressive enough to serve your most finicky guests.
Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
1 pound pasta shells
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 pounds Italian Sausage (casing removed)
2 bunches broccoli rabe (rinsed and chopped)
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 cup Pecorino (freshly grated)
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta about 1 minute short of the package instructions and drain, reserving pasta water.
Heat a large saute pan with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add garlic & crushed red pepper and cook till fragrant.
Add the broccoli rabe to the pan, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat in the pan drippings. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, just until tender. De-glaze with the reserved pasta water or white wine, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the pasta and toss to coat. Cook for 1 minute more and remove from the heat.
Add the freshly grated Pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with extra Pecorino.