I'm trying. I have another habit that doesn't help much: When some fruit or vegetable is on sale and I've never tried it, I usually purchase one just to give it a try. Then I'll end up buying three other things to go with it and not use any of them again before they go out of date. This time, it was broccoli rabe. Crunchy, flowery, and leafy: three textures in one! I already had the rest of the ingredients, so this dish was an easy choice. I didn't have to add anything to the "use-up" pile. The rabe is bitter and wintery feeling, blanching it first as this recipe does helps cut back on that. If you can't find any, kale would be a good substitute. I went on a kale kick for most of the fall but I think broccoli rabe is my new thing. What I love about it is the variety in texture. The tomato and garlic add a little bit of sweetness; the ricotta, some creaminess. It was simple and quick, but it feels more complicated, more sophisticated.
The original recipe calls for anchovies, but no thank you from where I sit. If you like them, add them to the second pan with the garlic.
Fettuccine with Broccoli Rabe, Tomatoes and Ricotta adapted from Bon Appetit, September 1998 (In 1998 I certainly wasn't reading Bon Appetit-I was probably at swim practice or painting my little brother's nails. Thank goodness for Epicurious!)
2 bunches broccoli rabe, cut into 1" pieces
12 oz fettuccine
1/2 c olive oil
6 peeled and seeded tomatoes, diced (I used whole canned tomatoes and crushed them as they cooked)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
6 oz ricotta
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli rabe and cook until stalks are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using 4- to 5-inch-diameter strainer, transfer to large bowl. Return water in pot to boil. Add pasta and boil until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add half of garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook until very soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe; sauté 2 minutes. Add pasta and reserved cooking liquid and toss to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta onto plates. Spoon tomato mixture around. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.