I had told E that I would make pasta bake for dinner. But with a small baby, sometimes I have to be flexible. Sometimes I just can't find the time when I spend all afternoon settling Syliva. And sometimes an ingredient leads me down the path of whimsy. In this case it was Cavolo Nero.
Kale is not common in the shops where I buy my vegetables. I have seen it a handful of times in the trendy fruit and vegetable shop in Carlton where I used to shop in lunch breaks while working. But we have no such fashionable shops locally. So I was very excited to see the dark leaves with the sign Tuscan Cabbage in a local fruit and veg shop. ‘Is this black kale?’ I asked when I paid for it. The woman at the cash register shrugged and showed no interest. When I got home I read the label and found it was indeed black kale or cavolo nero. Much more romantic names than Tuscan cabbage.
Once purchased, I had to use the cavolo nero but wasn’t sure how. I didn’t have time for a pasta bake but decided to use it for a pasta dish. It had to be something simple so I could taste the unusual leaves. I cooked the vegetables in my large frypan like a stir fry. It was a lightly seasoned dry sauce with lots of olive oil and parmesan cheese.
While I had been cooking the cavolo nero, E had looked on at its darkness. ‘It looks a little neofolk’, he said in approval. But he wasn’t so keen on the taste of it. Unlike me. I really liked it. A little like cabbage in needing quite some time to cook but even stronger tasting.
I was pleased with this pasta because it was so different to my usual pasta dishes and tasted fantastic. E kept asking about how I had cooked the pasta. Boiled with a little salt as usual. Then I told him that I used more olive oil than usual and he thought it had made a huge improvement. He did need a generous splash of Tabasco sauce for his pasta but I enjoyed the plainness of the dish.
I am sending Cavolo Nero and Chickpea pasta to Tigerfish of Teczcape who is hosting this week's Presto Pasta Nights (#112), an event that was created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.
Cavolo Nero and Chickpea Pasta
½ onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, cut into thin batons
1 zucchini, cut into thin batons
1 bunch cavolo nero (12-14 leaves), shredded
400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp maple syrup
¼ tsp smoked paprika
100g parmesan cheese, finely grated
250g pasta, dried
black pepper to serve
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in large non-stick frypan. Place onion, garlic and carrot over low to medium heat and fry for about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, cavolo nero and chickpeas. Fry for about 10 minutes over medium heat and 10 minutes over high heat, stirring frequently. Meanwhile cook and drain the pasta. Add 3 Tbsp oil, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika and pasta. Stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes and then stir in parmesan cheese. Check seasoning. Serve with freshly ground black pepper on the pasta.
On the stereo:
Boy Child: Scott Walker