Turns out the latest wonder vegetable, kale, is a member of the humble cabbage family and while we are all struck by its goodness credentials – high fibre, more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, full of antioxidants, a natural anti-inflammatory and rich in both omega 3 and 6…phew! – not many people know what to do with it.
Kale comes in a few varieties including the regular curly kale, red russian kale and, my favourite, black tuscan kale (also known as tuscan cabbage or cavolo nero, in Italian). In simple terms, you can use it as you would cabbage or spinach but it needs a little more cooking time as it can be tough. I prefer to blanch it in boiling water first, before chopping it to saute or braise. Unlike spinach, it will not completely wilt but will retain its texture and you can choose to serve it on the crisp side so it keeps its bright green colour, much like cooking chinese broccoli, or cook it a little longer until it softens but be warned it will change to olive green. The Italians do tend to favour over-cooking their green vegetables until quite soft, but I prefer to cook them as the Chinese would a stir fry.
My recipe for Braised Cavolo Nero with Chick Peas and Anchovies makes the most of this wonder vegetable as a bright and colourful side dish or tasty vegetarian meal if you omit the anchovies, just try it with some black olives instead. You can easily substitute curly or red russian kale too. The trick to making it flavoursome is to finish it with a generous amount of a premium quality extra virgin olive oil and some shaved parmesan…green veggies never tasted so good![yumprint-recipe id=’17’]