Cavalo nero

Cavalo nero, or Tuscan kale, black cabbage, lacinata, lacinato, flat black cabbage or thousand headed cabbage, is grown in most vegetable gardens in Tuscany and now also in South Africa.

The leaves have a tough texture and a strong, sweet flavour. They are dark green in colour and are packed with folic acid and vitamin C.

Look for cavalo nero with firm, deeply coloured leaves and moist, hardy stems.

If cavalo nero is unavailable, use savoy cabbage or any other robust, green leafy vegetable.

To prepare, remove the centre stem of each leaf, boil or blanch in salted boiling water, and use as you would spinach.

It’s delicious in soups, pies and quiches, with polenta or creamed with shavings of Parmesan. Try it by substituting the spinach in this Chilled spinach soup with feta cream and pistachio recipe or in Garlicky mushrooms with spinach and cream.

Use it in ribollita, an Italian soup with flat-leaf parsley, carrot, celery, red onion, garlic, plum tomato and cannellini beans.

Serve it blanched and mixed with coriander and finely chopped white onion as a side dish to fish or chicken. See Salmon with kale and Asian dressing.

Make a pesto by blending blanched cavalo nero leaves with garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

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