Lacinato kale (called cavolo nero, literally “black kale”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale, or black Tuscan palm. Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany for centuries, and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone and ribollita.
Preparation and Dishes
Lacinato kale, like most other kale varieties, is usually blanched first, and then sautéed with other, flavourful ingredients; in Campanian cuisine, anchovies are often added. It is commonly used in pastas and soups, but can also be eaten raw, in a salad.
In Tuscan cuisine, lacinato kale is often used in Ribollita (“twice cooked”), a thick, hearty soup made up of ingredients cooked for a meal the day before.
This kale is also used in other cuisines. In Montenegro and Croatia, it is known under the name raštan, raštika, or crno zelje (literally, black cabbage), and used as a side in winter dishes. In Dutch, it is called zwarte kool (black cabbage).
Using Cavolo Nero
- Look for crisp, unblemished leaves, with no holes. Avoid cores that are split or dry.
- Remove old or damaged outer leaves, cut the leaves free of the core and slice out any tough central stalks. Rinse, then chop or slice.
- It will keep in a cool, dark place or the vegetable drawer of the fridge for several days.
- To use, remove centre ribs from all but the smallest leaves then blanch leaves for 3-4 minutes. Cool then squeeze out the leaves and saute them with garlic and olive oil. This is a very hearty green and pairs well with rich dishes of pastas, beans or pork.