Discover Cavolo Nero, the Tuscan Kale

I encourage everyone to regularly try out new vegetables.

Challenge yourself to try out a new veg every week or at least once or twice per month!

It is a little culinary adventure to cook something you’ve never cooked before. It is a risk too, but I’d say: feel the fear and do it anyway! The worst thing that can happen is that you will end up with a meal which you don’t like and will need to quickly come up with an alternative plan or eat out. However, what is more likely, is that you will discover a new flavour, a new texture, a new combination, something you’ve never tried before. It can be a very exciting and rewarding experience, so next time you buy vegetables, whether at your local shop, at a farmers market or ordering a veg box online, make sure to pick something you don’t know well or something you have really no idea how to prepare!

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the different options of where to get your vegetables from and what to look out for, head to this recent blog post.

The vegetable I’d like to introduce to you today is Cavolo nero. It is also sold under the name black kale or Tuscan kale.

Cavolo nero

Some basics about Cavolo Nero

Generally, dark green leafy vegetables are very good for us. Kale is of course well known for its high nutritional value and has become very popular in the past couple of years. The Tuscan Kale, Cavolo nero, is from the same family and also offers all the nutritional richness: vitamins K, A, C and the B group vitamins, as well as iron, calcium, copper and many other beneficial minerals.

Cavolo Nero is a strong plant which can tolerate low temperatures and is now grown also in the UK. When you buy it you will see how thick the leaves are. Already the colour itself tells you something about the power of this plant. That deep dark green.

If you like what you hear so far, then I suggest you try Cavolo Nero in a salad, which I have recently made for the first time. It was really delicious, visually stunning and on top of that packed with a number of important nutrients, so give it a go!

Cavolo Nero salad with beetroot, orange & goat’s cheese

This salad is nutritious and delicious and I highly recommmend you try it!

I found the recipe on the wonderful website www.discovercavolonero.co.uk
It’s a great resource and has lots of useful information about the Tuscan Kale.

INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings)

  • 3 fresh beetroots (200g)
  • 200g Cavolo Nero, shredded
  • 1 orange peeled
  • 2 tbsp walnut oil (I just used olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 100g soft goat’s cheese

If you want one really big serving to have as a main, then I’d say reduce the number of beetroots to one big one or two medium ones and keep the amounts of all the other ingredients as listed above.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil the beetroot for 20–25 minutes until tender. Cool, peel and cut into wedges.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the Cavolo Nero for 6–8 minutes and drain
  3. Peel and segment the orange.
  4. Whisk the oil, vinegar and honey together for the dressing
  5. Toss the Cavolo Nero, beetroot, orange segments and dressing together. Crumble the goat’s cheese on top of the salad and serve immediately.

The main task is really to handle the beets – boil them, then once cooled down peel them and cut them into wedges. Beetroot is a vegetable with numerous beneficial properties and with character. It’s full of strong flavour and full of juice which is really difficult to wash off! I’d advice wearing an apron.

The rest of the preparation is simple: washing and cutting the Tuscan Kale, preparing the orange and the dressing. No advanced skills required.

When it comes to cutting the cavolo nero, I first cut the leaves off their stems with a little sharp knife and then put the stems in the bin and cut the leaves into shreds with a bigger knife.

Tuscan kale

Cavolo nero

Once you mix everything together you will enjoy the impressive combination of the dark green of the Tuscan Kale and the dark purple of the beetroot with the contrasting white and orange colours. I was really impressed with how this salad looked and I hope you’ll like it too!

Cavolo nero salad with beetroot and orange

The earthy beetroot mixed with delicate cavolo nero is just fantastic with the touch of balsamic vinegar and the sweetness of the orange.

Cavolo nero salad with beetroot and orange

How could you say no to such a beautiful salad?

If you’re really hungry, add some toasted sourdough bread to go with it.

I’d love to hear from you, so if you try this salad out, share your experience in the Comments section below or leave a comment on my page on Facebook or Twitter.

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2 Comments

  1. Zaza Buyong Smith

    We agree that it’s a good idea to try a new vegetable (maybe every week is ambitious for our family though!) The cavolo nero recently arrived in our veg box, and we cooked it with rosemary and chilli (first recipe we found online) We were surprised at how palatable it was! Your recipe looks promising, so we will definitely try this out. Thanks for the careful instruction on preparing this; we ate the stems but in a salad probably would not.

    Nice blog, Anna!

    • Thank you Zaza! Glad to you hear you had a good first experience with the black kale! Some interesting new seasonal vegetables available now. Various types of squash in all forms, sizes and colours, so might be worth trying out and experimenting with. For a family I’d say why not agree that it’s a different person each time, who chooses the new veg to be tested? Could be interesting! 🙂

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