In case my cavolo nero salad sounds a little fancy and exotic, let me reassure you that it’s not. It can actually be referred to as ‘A simple and tasty kale salad!’. It’s also packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including lutein, vitamins A, C, K, fibre, calcium, manganese and iron, so it’s a great little side dish for a weeknight dinner.
So what is cavolo nero?
Cavolo nero (cabbage) is also known as black kale, Tuscan kale or Tuscan cabbage, and you’ve guessed correctly, it’s related to kale. In fact, it’s kale’s Italian cousin. And while it’s a very common vegetable in Italian cooking, cavolo nero is often covered in mystery elsewhere. That’s not to say that it’s not easily available. I see cavolo nero in supermarkets all the time, especially in season, and the poor darling gets ignored by most shoppers.
In essence, cavolo nero is very similar to kale. Its leaves are longer and darker, and I personally think it’s a very pretty leafy green. You can use it in soups and stews like the Italians do, sauté it in some butter and lemon juice like you would with spinach, or use it raw in a salad like this one. I have a little technique for softening the slightly tough leaves for raw salads that I show you in this recipe. And yes, you can have it in your green smoothie.
If you can’t get your hands on cavolo nero for this recipe, use regular kale or Swiss chard instead. This salad is great with pretty much any protein but I especially love it with some roasted chicken or pan-fried duck or fish. Remove tomatoes for AIP version, you could use some avocado, radish or cucumber instead.
- 12 cavolo nero leaves, removed from the stalk and washed
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- another pinch of salt
- Shake off excess water from the cavolo nero leaves and slice thinly on a chopping board. Drizzle all over with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage the lemon and salt into the chopped leaves. This will help to soften the kale. Transfer to a platter or leave on a chopping board, whichever way you like to present it.
- Scatter tomatoes over the top.
- Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and thinly sliced garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, as to not burn the oil too much, and stir frequently, for about 1-2 minutes. As soon as the garlic start to change colour to golden yellow, remove from the heat. Scatter the fried garlic over the salad and then drizzle the hot, garlicky oil over the top.