4 min read

Cavolo Nero


When I first heard the name Cavolo Nero I honestly thought somebody was talking about an Italian opera singer.

Well, I was partly right.

Cavolo Nero is of Italian origin and mostly found in the Tuscany region.  It has dark green leaves that are almost black in colour and each leaf has a tough central stalk.  It was those stalks that caused me a lot issues when cooking it  but we’ll get to that soon!

I quite like its almost bitter flavour too.  I find it strangely addictive.

More importantly, it’s full of antioxidant goodness.

It’s been awhile since I’ve cooked some “glorious greens” here on the blog.

My approach to cooking the Cavolo Nero was going to be simple.  No complications whatsoever.

I wanted to braise the Cavolo Nero in some olive oil with a little water in addition to adding some dried chili flakes, garlic and anchovies.  It’s a simple, yet tasty combination of ingredients that I find compliments the flavour of dark green vegetables. (And I quite like that steamy, garlic flavour cooking through everything).

I just didn’t expect the stalks to be so stubborn!

It took nearly one hour to braise the Cavolo Nero!  One hour! Here I was expecting a quick, tasty side dish to some lamb.

Lesson learnt.

Next time I’ll cut the stalks out and just sauté the leaves.

Cavolo Nero Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Braised cavolo nero (black kale)
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 2
  • 250 grams of Cavolo Nero or black kale leaves (stalk removed)
  • ¼ cup olive oil plus extra
  • 1 pinch of dried chili flakes or 1 whole chilli finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 3-4 canned anchovies
  • ½ cup of water (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the Cavolo Nero leaves in a pot of boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes and drain. Squeeze out all the excess water.
  2. In a non stick or cast iron pan heat up some virgin olive oil, turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, chili flakes and anchovies.
  3. Give everything a good stir and let it cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add the “just blanched” Cavolo Nero leaves and stir everything again.
  5. Cook for a further 5 minutes
  6. Cook until tender and glossy
  7. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.