This weekend I have been cooking. Specifically, I’ve been cooking a dish called Cavolo Nero Chips – and very tasty it is too. Here’s what you need to know…
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The idea of me cooking may surprise any of my NZ friends reading this as when I lived there I was well known as someone who didn’t even own a tea towel, but you’ll be amazed at how many hobbies I can develop the weekend I’m supposed to sort out my end of year accounts (watch for tomorrow’s post on origami swans).
However, my trip to the kitchen was not purely sparked by procrastination, there was also a chance encounter in Sainsbury’s with a bag of Cavolo Nero.
What is Cavalo Nero?
Despite the fact that its name actually means black cabbage, Cavolo Nero is a member of the kale family – which is why it’s also known as black kale, or more commonly Italian Kale, or Tuscan Kale as it’s used a lot in Italian cooking, particularly from the Tuscany region.
Like kale, it’s a member of the brassica family which means it’s chock full of health benefits. It’s also a source of B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin C and a source of iron.
It’s not actually black, but very dark green. It can look black once it’s cooked though, which is how it got its name.
What To Do With Cavolo Nero?
Anything you can do with kale you can also do with Cavolo Nero; that means adding it to soups, stews and stir-fries.
There’s a delicious-sounding Ottolenghi recipe in the book Ottolenghi Simple which stir fries it with lemon and chorizo, then spoons on a dash of sour cream to coat the whole thing with yumminess.
It works well in salads, but like kale, it’s better if you remove the thick stem that goes through the middle of the leaves (you can also use a kale stripper which makes things easier).
Once you’ve removed the leaves, either shred them finely, or, if you prefer chunkier leaves, you can soften them by rubbing them with some olive oil first.
Rather than doing any of those things, I decided to use it instead of kale in a healthy chips recipe.
Cavolo Nero Chips Recipe
Now I was first told about this Cavolo Neron by Jennifer’s Aniston’s personal chefs Jewels and Jill (get me!) when I interviewed them a while back and they gave me a recipe for ‘crisps’ made out of it.
I hadn’t tried it as I hadn’t seen the main ingredient anywhere, but a chance encounter in Sainsbury’s saw a bunch just lying there and I had the other ingredients at home so, voila…
Cavolo Nero Chips
1 bunch of Cavolo Nero (about 1lb/450g)
1) Preheat oven to 325F/180C
2) Wash the Cavolo well and dry the leaves
3) Remove the leaves from the stems and cut them into bite sized pieces
4) Spread them on a large baking sheet – or two.
5) Drizzle or spray a little olive oil over the top, rubbing it gently so the leaves are covered. Sprinkle with a little sea salt
6) Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. They are done when the chips darken to a deep green. Cool for at least 2 minutes before eating.
So, What do Cavolo Nero Chips Taste Like?
Hindsight is a funny thing isn’t it. I first wrote this post in 2012 just when kale was starting to become something healthy humans eat rather than food for cattle.
As such it was before I had tried a kale chip and, at the time, all those fabulously glamorous wellness folk with swishy hair were telling me they were the perfect replacement for crisps.
To me, that meant they would be hard and perfect for dipping… and so, I decided I wanted to try and dip mine in hummus. I even photographed my end result with a pot of the stuff!
Now, as I update the blog in 2020, I know better and not surprisingly, when you try and dip a Cavolo Nero chip into hummus, it crumbles – although, the bigger leaves of the Cavolo Nero do make a perfect base for hummus to spoon onto (and if you like that idea, check out this post on other interesting ways to swap carbs for veggies)
They’re not going to put Dorito’s out of business, but with an average calorie count per my calculations of about 30 per 10 crisps (if you use a spray oil) they’re certainly figure-friendly.
Which might account for why Jennifer Aniston looks quite so amazing; although if these were on the JA’s list of fave J&J foods I’m pretty sure she also travels with floss and a mirror. They REALLY leave green bits on your teeth. Do not eat before a first date or job interview.