We occasionally get cavolo nero in our organic vegetable box and I’m never very good at coming up with ideas to use it. More often than not it just ends up steamed or sautéed and served as a (boring) side vegetable, and the bunch that was languishing in the fridge was looking like a likely candidate for such side dish oblivion.
But, I recently entered my beetroot spaghetti into the Pasta Please challenge for January, and as I was browsing the other entries, I spotted Pasta with Cavolo Nero by Jane at Onions and Paper – a lovely cooking and craft blog. It looked delicious, although since I’m a) Jewish and b) don’t eat meat, the bacon had to go. In the end, I used her recipe as inspiration for my own. I hope she doesn’t mind too much…
This was wonderfully creamy and gooey and delicious. It feels at once massively sinful, being mostly double cream and parmesan, and also highly virtuous, because nothing with kale in it could possibly be bad for you, right?
Kipper, who had been stropping about me giving her the wrong kind of cutlery, calmed down and cleared her plate. She’s never been a big fan of the cavolo nero before, but I think the gooey creamy sauce won her over. Bonus.
Oh yeah, the whole thing took maybe 20 minutes tops to make too. Probably less.
On the basis that all three of us would happily have tucked into seconds, but there was NONE LEFT, I’d say this amount serves two. To be honest, I could probably have eaten the lot single-handed.
Gnocchi with cavolo nero and cream
You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
0.5 tsp crushed red chilli (or to taste)
225g bunch cavolo nero (or thereabouts)
200ml double cream
25g parmesan + extra to serve
250g potato gnocchi (or more – cook your usual amount for 2 people)
What to do:
Wash the cavolo nero thoroughly. Remove the white ‘rib’ from the centre of each leaf, and then cut the leaves crosswise into 1cm strips. Set aside.
Peel and finely slice the onion. Peel and crush the garlic. Add both to a shallow pan with the butter, olive oil and chilli. Cook over a very low heat until everything is very soft but not browning.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Blanch the cavolo nero for 1 minute, then drain with a slotted spoon and add to the onion mixture. Turn up the heat slightly and mix well.
Bring the water back to the boil and use it to cook the gnocchi, as per the directions on the packet – usually 1-2 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the cream and parmesan to the cavolo nero, mix well, and reduce the heat to a minimum.
Once the gnocchi is cooked, drain well and toss with the cavolo nero sauce.
Serve with extra parmesan and black pepper at the table.