As a child, I never understood bitter vegetables. Maybe it has something to do with our developing taste buds, or maybe it’s that we’re simply not subjected to enough bitter flavors in our youth. Whatever the case may be, as a child, whenever my family would eat radicchio, escarole or broccoli rabe, I would cringe and turn up my nose. In fact, it wasn’t until I was working in a restaurant, in my late twenties, that I truly developed a taste for bitter greens -- and it was this dish, Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage, that turned my head.

It is a simple preparation, made as most Italian foods are, with the best fresh ingredients, cooked in a style that does not rob them of their flavor or unique characteristics. It’s a dish that seduces your palate with contrasting flavors that somehow come together to please the palate. It showcases its spicy, bitter flavors against a butter and wine sauce. Add to that a bit of salty pecorino over the pasta, and you have perfection in simplicity.