“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Nero Ain't No Zero

So, this was a toughie.

What is this food? I asked.

It wasn't until a couple of days ago that someone answered. An anonymous reader living in Oz answered Kale, and that was not quite correct, but the question was such a tricky one that I'm gonna allow it. The correct answer is
Cavolo Nero!

So what is it? Well, it is a close relative of Kale, a member of the brassica family, the same group that contains brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and collard greens. Cavolo Nero is also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur Kale. 

So what can one do with it? So glad you asked.

Cavolo nero with garlic and chilli

Remove the stems from 2 bunches of cavolo nero and finely shred the leaves.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and gently fry 1 thinly sliced medium onion and 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves until the onions begin to soften.

Stir in 1 finely chopped, seeded red chilli and cook for another minute.

Add the cavolo nero and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until wilted.

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

A great side dish for Italian-style fish, chicken, veal or pork dishes.

Cavolo nero, Chestnut and Butter Bean Soup (Zuppa di Castagne e Cavolo Nero)

Serves 4 - 6


1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, peeled of stringy bits with a potato peeler, then chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 400g canned plum tomatoes in juice
1 ½ pints vegetable stock
1 x 435g canned unsweetened pureed chestnuts
1 x 400g can white beans, drained and rinsed
About 250g of Cavolo Nero, stems and ribs removed and leaves chopped into pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Tamari (A type of Japanese soy sauce that's made without wheat and is therefore suitable for those with wheat allergies. Tamari is dark in colour and has a rich flavour, making it useful in marinades and dressings. If you can't find tamari, substitute dark soy sauce.)


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the onion and garlic. Let sweat a bit, then add the carrot and celery. Saute for a few minutes, then add tinned tomatoes, the chopped kale, Tamari and seasoning and cook for a few minutes more before adding the vegetable stock. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally, before adding in the pureed chestnuts and beans and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Transfer about ½ pint of the soup to a blender and process. Return to the pot; give it a stir. Add more seasoning if required and let simmer for a few minutes before serving.

So... what's the new Name This Food! food?

Kooshti sante!


  1. oh come on too easy to answer

  2. Alright, alright... but it's a cool pic, no? AND - it's in season.

  3. Not radicchio, but you're on the right track.


Come on and chew the fat!


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