Thursday, 7 May 2009

PPN Cavolo Nero and Chickpea Pasta

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
Serves 4

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


  1. I was really excited when I first saw it at Field To Feast's farm. they said that it didn't sell very well as people didn't know what to do with it. What a shame!

  2. I really have problems liking regular curly kale which can swamp our veg box, but the black version seems to be a bit more agreeable. Your pasta dish looks both simple and tasty - and easy to spice up for the tabasco lovers!

  3. I love the name - cavolo nero! I've only seen it once in a grocery store. I'll have to try it! Your dish looks tasty.

  4. What a beautiful pasta dish. If I didn't already have dinner planned for tomorrow, I'd make this!

  5. Gorgeous dish! I too love cavolo nero and get very excited when I see some. There's one farmer at our local Saturday Farmer's Market that produces very interesting greens and Cavolo Nero is one I always look for.

    And, hard as it is at times, try to just enjoy the little one. She'll be big and independent in no time and you'll be back to making whatever, whenever you want.

    Thanks for sharing the pasta with PResto Pasta Nights.

  6. That's another healthy one. Do check out the round up.

  7. Gorgeous leaves! I love the look of this pasta and chickpeas! Men and their tabasco!

  8. Thanks Lorraine - it is a shame people don't know what to do with it - I think I would enjoy it like cabbage in soups and stir fries as well as pasta

    Thanks Lysy - even curly kale seems beguilingly exotic because I never see that around here

    Thanks Ashley - I had the impression it was easy to find in North America but maybe it is just because I see it on a lot of blogs

    Thanks Lisa - hope you get to try it as I think you would enjoy it (with tabasco)

    Thanks Ruth - we are having a lovely time with sylvia and I have been enjoying the time I do get to cook

    Thanks Tigerfish - I think it was quite healthy with all the greens and beans in it

    Thanks Tanna - I think E likes tabasco better than the leaves - hurumph!

  9. This dish is right up my ally, kale and chickpeas are such a natural combination. I have never seen black kale here, but curly kale is quite abundant. It's actually cheaper than spinach!

  10. What a delicious looking pasta dish.

  11. That is a truly different pasta dish you created. I should really try something new with pasta. I am in a pasta rut just now. Good time to head over to the line-up huh?

  12. Thanks Joanne - lucky you - I'd love to have an abundance of curly kale locally

    Thanks Food Hunter

    Thanks Holler - I love PPN for inspiration to get me out of my pasta rut

  13. I too enjoy simple oil-and-garlic sauces. And kale (though I much prefer the name cavolo nero--so much more romantic!) is one of my favorites.

  14. Thanks Ricki - I agree, cavolo nero is such a poetic name - although even kale has a hint of exotic to me because so rare!

  15. Now this is a pasta for me!! It is healthy,mmm,....& lovely too! I love all of the tastes!!


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