Sometimes known as ‘Dinosaur Kale’ or ‘Tuscan Kale’, the world over it is most commonly called 'Cavolo Nero'. Literally translating to black kale or black cabbage, ‘Cavolo Nero’ alludes to the most striking aspect of this particular variety, which can be celebrated in a ton of different ways in the kitchen.
Cavolo Nero can be eaten raw, and would make a nutritous alternative to just about any leaf in salads. The best approach is to massage olive oil, some sort of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) and a pinch of salt into the leaves to soften them a bit before adding the rest of the components of your salad. You could also give the leaves a quick blanch instead before adding them to your salad.
If you really want to show off, Cavolo Nero’s deep green undertones lend itself spectacularly to a fresh batch of vibrant green pasta dough–recipe below. Equally showstopping, you could use a high quality bought pasta, and make a beautiful sauce with steamed or braised Cavolo Nero, blended with a cold pressed oil or brown butter.
The stalks are very tough, but don’t throw them away! After stripping off the leaves, chop or chiffonade the stems as fine as you can, and add them to the base of your next soup or pot of beans. In fact if you were to make a small pasta shape with the green pasta dough, you could add them to a beautiful brothy pot of ribolita with loads of fresh cavolo leaves added just at the end along with tons of parsley and mint. Drool.
Bright Green Pasta Dough
4 egg yolks
100g cooked Cavolo Nero, blended
300g ’00’ Flour
Tip the flour out onto a clean work surface.
Make a little well in the centre of the mound of flour, tip the remaining ingredients into the well.
Using a fork, start to slowly and carefully incorporate small amounts of the flour into the wet ingredients, being careful not to disturb the walls of the well too much.
Once the mixture becomes too difficult to incorporate with the fork, start using your hands to form the dough. Once all the flour is combined, knead the dough for 10 minutes. When you’re done you should have an elastic, smooth ball of dough. Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling into your desired pasta shape.
You can make this dough the day before you plan to make your pasta, and let it rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours.