Cavolo Nero or Black Cabbage


January is a cold month, so we don’t expect too much to grow, however for some nice healthy greens we have lots of lovely cabbage growing in Ireland. Cavolo Nero or Black Cabbage translated is one of the varieties currently in full bloom.

Cabbage green leaves are very nutritious, and with few calories.

It is a very good antioxidant, full of Vitamins C, B and K, keeping you healthy through these cold months.

Here is my favourite winter recipe with Cavolo Nero. Designed for when you arrive home to warm you up. It is one of the most famous soups from Tuscany and Cavolo Nero plays the role of the main actor.



This is a very classic Italian soup recipe from Tuscany from late 1800, where the art of fine dining had just begun.   

I’m very proud of it and delighted to share it with you.

If you want to avoid meat you can remove the pancetta.



Extra virgin Olive oil

Celery (diced)                   2 stalk

Carrots (diced)                  2 carrots

Onion (diced)                    1 large

Leek (diced)                      1 (white part only)

Garlic cloves (chopped)  2

Bay leaves                         2

Pancetta                           100 g

Butter beans                    300 g

Cavolo Nero (chopped)   1 bunch

Cabbage (sliced)            ¼ of a head

Kale (chopped)              1 small bunch

Tomatoes (Deseeded and diced)    5                      

Potatoes (diced)            2

Parsley (chopped)         ½ bunch

Rosemary                       1 bunch

Thyme                             2 bunches



Step 1: Soak the butter beans in lots of cold water overnight, the next day strain and rinse, put the beans in a large pot with three times their own weight of water. Add 1 bay leaf and 1 garlic clove. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for one hour or until soft. Blitz half of the bean quantity and set aside.

Step 2: In the mean time in another pot, pour in a little oil, at medium heat braise the celery, carrots and onions, and cook until soft and gold in color. Then add the bay leaves, garlic, leek and pancetta. Braise at medium heat for a further 8 minutes. Increase the heat and add the kale, cabbage, potatoes and cavolo Nero, braise for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Add the tomatoes and enough water to the cooked butter beans to make a nice runny soup. Cook for 20 minutes, and then add the butter bean puree.

Step 4: In a frying pan with a little oil fry the rosemary and thyme for two minutes, and then sieve this oil into the soup. Add some fresh parsley to taste.

To be served hot with sourdough bread sliced and toasted.


RECIPE: PESTO SAUCE (with cavolo Nero)

This recipe is a version of one of the most famous of Italian sauces; pesto, which is usually made with basil and parmesan.  

It is an easy, fast recipe, to be used as a pasta sauce, with fish or simply served on a bruschetta.

By substituting Pecorino Romano cheese with breadcrumbs it becomes a great vegan dish.



Cavolo nero(black cabbage)      400 g

Almonds (with skins)                   200 g

Garlic cloves                                          1

Extra virgin olive oil                     200g

Pecorino romano(or Parmesan) 60 g



Step 1: In lots of water wash chopped cavolo nero and drain.

In a pot with salted, boiling water, blanch the cavolo nero for 4 minutes, drain and put in an ice bath (ice and water), set aside.

Step 2: In a blender put the almonds, garlic and olive oil, blitz until they become a creamy texture. Add the cavolo nero, 3-4 ice cubes and blitz until it forms a smooth puree, add the pecorino romano.

Chili pepper could also be added for a bit of a kick.


Preserve refrigerated in air tight container submerge by olive oil.