As Autumn slowly creeps in, we start to welcome back old friends to the kitchen and garden. One such returning hero, is Cavolo Nero; the dark highwayman of the vegetable beds!
Mysterious and enigmatic, the inky black leaves of this striking plant grow in strident clumps, rather than forming a cohesive ‘head’ like cabbage or other leafy greens. This lends it an almost cavalier ‘gothic’ appearance, which is as much of a pleasure to gardener as it is to low-carb diner alike!
But above and beyond its rather edgy & peculiar looks; this rugged Tuscan cousin of kale is absolutely delicious! And variety of side orders is particularly welcome on a low carb / ketogenic diet, where the risk of ‘vegetable monotony & repetition’ lurks around every corner!
Use it on its own, in stews, baked, sautéed, fried, steamed or with roasted vegetables. Its astounding utility is equally as striking as its good looks! And like all ingredients on this blog, Cavolo Nero is particularly low in carbohydrate (just 1.8g net carbs per 100g); so it’s perfect for ketogenic diets, diabetics or those following a paleo-plan. I’ve even heard it described as a super food; and if I’m honest, in this instance I can’t really disagree!
To cook this rugged brute, start by trimming off the tough white stalk at the base of the leaf. I tend to cut a ‘v’ into the stem, preserving as much of the green leaf as possible. Then simply chop the leaves into inch lengths, give them a good rinse in cold water, then strain into a sieve or colander.
Whilst the Cavolo Nero is draining, thinly slice an onion and soften on the hob in a generous spoonful of butter until it turns translucent. As the onion softens, chop your broccoli into chunks and add to the pan, stalk first as this is the longest part to cook.
Once the broccoli is in, add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and crumble over a chicken stock cube or two. You could also use a cupful of fresh chicken stock if you’re glamorous enough to have this to hand.
Season the mix well, then pile in your Cavolo Nero and follow it with a god handful of frozen petits pois (overpriced peas). If you’re using fresh stock, there’s no need to add any liquid; if you used stock-cubes, pour on a half cupful of water to prevent the contents from sticking.
Stir the lot, then place a lid firmly on the pan. Cook for between 5 and 10 minutes on a low heat, until the Cavolo Nero has wilted down but still retains its bite.
Whilst the pan is on the hob, grate a good whack of parmesan cheese and sprinkle this over the vegetables once cooked. Fold the cheese into the vegetables, garnish with freshly chopped basil or oregano then rush to the table whilst the lot is still piping hot. Serve alongside meat, fish or use as a base to eggs florentine.
One word will sum up the lot… delicious!
Thanks for reading and bon ap!