Key Seasonal Ingredient: Cavolo Nero

WHY WE LOVE IT: Like all good Italians, it’s dark, sexy and robust, literally translating to “black cabbage”. The slightly tangy and bitter flavour works well in rich and hearty dishes, perfect for those first chilly days.

IN SEASON: March to July, it’s at its best when hit with the first frost, which accentuates its sweetness.

CHECK IT’S FRESH: choose cavolo nero with crisp dark leaves and no blemishes or holes left by hungry little caterpillars. The stems should be firm, and not dry or cracked. Try not to buy leaves which are more than a foot long, as these tend to be more bitter and tough.

VARIETIES: Cavolo Nero is a type of Kale, and it’s often sold as black cabbage orTuscan Kale.

COOKING AND PREP METHODS: Cut out the stem and ribs, as they can be tough especially if you’re only cooking it quickly. Rinse very well, as cheeky bits of dirt love to hang out in the rippled leaves. It can be stir fried or blanched very quickly, or braised for a long time in soups and stews.

STORE IT: a cool, dark place is ideal – the vegetable shelf in your fridge is perfect

NOURISHES: A cup provides you with over half your RDI of beta karotene (vitamin A), vitamin K, and vitamin C, plus it packs in a decent dose of iron and calcium

CLASSIC FLAVOUR PAIRINGS: Anchovies, chilli, garlic, lemon, pancetta, cheese, game meats, sausage, potatoes, mushrooms, nuts and legumes

3 WAYS WITH CAVOLO NERO:

  1. Stir fried cavolo nero with garlic on bruschetta with a hazelnut pangratta
  2. Braised with smoked bacon then layered with potatoes and cream for a delicious gratin
  3. Blanched and pureed cavolo nero with pecorino and anchovies, tossed through tagliatelle

BUY IT: available at most farmers markets and good green grocers, or grow your own!

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