Cavolo Nero

Cavolo NeroTranslated the Italian name cavolo nero literally means black cabbage. A favourite of Tuscan cooks, this very dark green vegetable has long plume-like leaves with a coarse central rib. On cooking the leaves become even darker, almost black in colour – which explains its name.

Cavolo nero (pronounced ca-voll-oh nee-ro) is a member of the kale family and as such  it is high in vitamin K, it is also high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and is a reasonable source of calcium, as well as been considered to be an anti-inflammatory and to have potent levels of anti-cancer properties.

Cavolo nero is the perfect winter vegetable. It is the ingredient that distinguishes a traditional Italian Ribollita from an ordinary minestrone soup and goes well with any number of hearty winter stews and braises.

We believe if we were not the first to grow this vegetable in New Zealand we were certainly one of the earliest commercial growers.

Availability: At The Chef’s Garden cavolo nero is usually available year round, but is at its best during winter.

Goes with: bacon; beef; chicken; garlic; ham; lamb; and pork.


  • Selection: Leaves should be crisp and look fresh.
  • Preparation: Remove the tough centre stems. The easiest way to do this is to place the leaf, rough side up on a board, then run a sharp knife along each side of the centre stem.
  • Storage: Cavolo nero will keep in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
  • Using: Add cavolo nero to soups, stews and casseroles for flavour, colour and nutrition. Braising, stir-frying, steaming and sautéing are all excellent cooking methods for cavolo nero.
    • Sautéed Cavolo Nero: To cook as a side dish, blanch in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and refresh under cold running water, then chop or shred. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil with 1 crushed garlic clove in a frying pan over a medium heat to infuse. Add blanched cavolo nero and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes to heat through.

Recipes using Cavolo Nero


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