Cavolo nero, also known as black kale or Tuscan kale, is a plant of the brassica family, similar to british kale, but with a more strong and distinctive flavour.
Cavolo nero benefits and recipes is your go to reading to create the perfect winter menu!
Its leaves have a dark green colour, hence the name black kale, and are an indication of the powerful antioxidants that the plant contains. Originally cultivated in Tuscany, but lately cultivated in England as well, and therefore you can easily find in many grocery stores.
It is a versatile vegetable perfect to create delicious recipe during the colder months, great to help you maintain a good variety in your 5 a day (Want you know why you need to have your 5 a day? Check here!), and rich in nutrients too.
Cavolo nero benefits: a winter ally to keep you healthy
Black kale is an important source of antioxidants: it contains vitamins A, C and E, and it is rich in vitamins B and K and folic acid. It contains minerals like calcium, iron and zinc. Furthermore, it contains flavonoids, powerful to fight cancer and prevent cardiovascular diseases, that have anti-inflammatory properties. (For an overview on the power of antioxidants, check this article)
Finally, it is a good source of fibre too, making it really valuable on the nutritional profile!
A very good reason to add black kale to your autumn and winter recipes, it is quite versatile and can be used in many ways to enrich your diet.
Let’s have a look at some tasteful recipe, so you can crack on and add it to your healthy diet.
Cavolo nero recipes
Here are a few ideas to get you started, quite easy to prepare to add some a tasteful twist to your meal that I hope you’ll love.
Cavolo nero soup
This traditional Tuscan recipe is the perfect main to warm you up, following the original recipe we should use dried beans, to be soaked in water the night before, and then cooked for a couple of hours with the soup. To make it easier and quicker, in my version I’m using canned beans, although in this way we lose some of the nutritional values of beans, the time saved is quite a lot, and sometime it makes the difference.
By all means, if you have time to do it, go for the traditional version, a slow cooker might be helpful in this case!
Ingredients for 4 persons:
200g cavolo nero
3 small potatoes
A small onion
Salt and pepper to season
Finely chop the celery, with the carrot and the onion, and place them in a large saucepan to brown slightly with Evo oil. Then add the potatoes cut in cubes, the laurel and cook for a couple of minutes.
When they have caught a bit of colour, add a good splash of tomato passata (not much just to give it a bit of colour and then add the beans well drained, and the black kale leaves, that you have previously finely sliced, after taking out the central part.
Mix it for a couple of minutes, until the kale has absorbed some of the sauce, and then add two cups of water, cover, and let simmer on medium/low fire for around 40 minutes.
At this point check that the potatoes are tender and then turn up the fire in order for the soup to reach the right consistency, which needs to be not too dense.
On the side prepare some bread crostini, toasting slightly some bread, ideally a sourdough brown bread. You can add some diced parmesan too if you like, definitely an uplift in calories but in taste as well!
Place the bread on the serving plates, and cover with the warm soup: ready to serve!
Cavolo nero pesto
This is a super easy recipe, surprisingly smooth, and very tasty, it was the only way I was able to have my daughter actually eat black kale, as she could not tell the difference with the normal basil pesto at first sight, and the taste is so smooth and rich that then she could not guess that was kale based! So, a real success for me.
Ingredients for 4 people:
200g black kale
40g of almonds or pine nuts (or a mix of both!)
50g of parmesan cheese
1 garlic head
A pinch of salt
400g of your choice of pasta
Eliminate the central part of the black kale leaves, and then boil them for a couple of minutes in water. Drain the leaves, taking care of saving the water for later, place them quickly under cold water to cool them down and ensure that the black kale does not lose its colour.
In a high container (I use a large jug) first add the almonds (or the pine nuts) , the parmesan, the sliced garlic, some EVO oil, and mix together with an immersion mixer. When you have obtained a smooth paste, add the black kale leaves and a bit of the cooking water, and mix together with the mixer, until you reach the perfect pesto texture, smooth and homogenous.
At this point put the water you saved on the fire again until it boils, add a coarse salt and use it to cook the pasta of your choice. After the needed time drain the pasta (saving some of the water again!) and season it with your black kale pesto. Use a bit of the cooking water to adjust the consistency, mix well, and serve with a dust of grated parmesan!
The pesto is so good that can be easily used to prepare some tasty bruschetta, just toast the sliced bread and serve with abundant pesto on top, and a dash of Extra virgin olive oil!
I hope you liked these recipes, let me know in the comment which one are going to try!
For other soup ideas check this article.