I have had an epiphany in the form of a 10-minute pasta wonder this week. It contains the “darling of the cooking world.” Black kale, or cavolo nero, is a dark green, leafy veg used in many Tuscan kitchens for centuries e.g. in the classic ribollita soup.
My parents know the way to my heart is fruit & veg – what can I say, I’m a simple gal – and this week, it was in the form of a large bunch of black kale. Though the namesake of this blog may suggest I am a bit of a brassica expert, my cavolo nero knowledge is somewhat limited; this recipe is for anyone stumped on what to make when presented with a bunch of this stuff. I have your back.
A quick research led me to a rather useful BBC Food section where this brassica is described and analysed in-depth, alongside the usual suggested recipes. Coincidentally, I was flicking through Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest masterpiece, NOPI, in Waterstones that afternoon only to land on a fried kale recipe. I adopted concepts used in both outlets to make a meal so good you never even knew you wanted until you’ve tried it.
Inspired by both the Beebs and Ottolenghi, I bring you this 10-minute cavolo nero wonder dish. It’s simple, satisfying and mouth-watering. Perfect for a late night TV dinner, or a quick, throw-together option when hosting friends.
Cavolo nero and chickpea penne
2 cups dried penne
5 cavolo nero leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes, depending on taste
1 tsp olive oil
2 – 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
- Blanch the cavolo nero for 1 minute. Let it cool, and chop once it is easier to handle.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil. Fry the garlic and lemon zest until the garlic starts to brown.
- Add the chilli flakes and fry for a further minute.
- Add the chopped cavolo nero to the pan and fry until the leaves start to crisp up.
- Once crisped, squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon, stir, and take off the heat.
- Once the pasta is cooked, save 1 tbsp of the cooking water and drain. Add the chickpeas to the same pan and stir – so the chickpeas warm a little.
- Warm the cavolo nero mix up under medium heat and mix in the pasta water and the pasta/chickpeas.
- Once warmed all the way through, add the nutritional yeast. Mix well.
- Season – plenty of pepper necessary – and serve! Sprinkle some more nutritional yeast on top, if so desired.
Having been introduced to a Jamie Oliver broccoli and anchovy pasta perfection a few years back, I became inspired; everyone I have ever cooked for loved it. It was beautifully simple and powerful that everybody and their aunt were asking for the recipe. The cavolo nero pasta above has similar vibes – so I am glad I am (kind of) getting some anchovy pasta action back in my life.
If you’re a fan of the beans and greens combination as used above, Rachel Roddy has recently shared a recipe for a humble white bean stew Roman-style. Cucina povera dishes are totally up my street!