Saturday, October 17, 2015

Food of the Month: Remarkable Cavolo Nero or Tuscan Kale

 A Rustic Vegetable, Rediscovered

other names for this brassica are dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale
It appears that a local peasant staple is currently the healthfood of choice in much of the western world. Brassica oleracea Lacinato is a tough plant which requires little attention and enjoys a long growing season, from one spring to another. It is particularly crunchy and tasty following winter frost. 


 Cavolo nero is remarkable for its long, narrow green-black leaves with their dimpled, bumpy surface. To the touch they are leathery and waterdrops roll on them like silver bubbles. The plant can grow to a metre tall and presents magnificent dark plumes worthy of a baroque or native American headdress. 
And the kale is easy to cultivate: plant the seedlings in spring and they will grow and burgeon with just a little water over a whole year. They may like some staking by autumn. We are told to harvest the lower leaves, but it is satisfying to remove the topmost, freshest sprouts for some dishes. In the spring before uprooting, the last tender top shoots are eaten raw in salad.

Like all brassicas Tuscan kale is full of vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and all sorts of other goodies  - even, surprisingly, protein.
People in Tuscany have been cultivating and eating cavolo nero for centuries in minestrone, ribollita, farinata and other dishes. It is specially delicious with cannelloni beans.
 However these days chic chefs are having a field day with cavolo nero and other kales. 
Here are some interesting kale recipes.

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