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Vegetable of the month: Cavelo Nero

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Once considered coarse and unappetizing, kale’s high vitamin and mineral content has seen it rise from the status of cattle food to superfood. Our vegetable of the month is Cavalo Nero also known as Dinosaur Kale due to the warty appearance of its blistered leaves which is thought to resemble dinosaur skin. With a name like that and a sweeter flavour than other kales, maybe this is a green to tempt reluctant brassica eaters with.

October’s colder temperatures and shorter days mean that the summer delights of runner beans, young courgettes and new potatoes are well behind us for this year. The season may have turned, but we do not need to turn our backs on tender delights from the vegetable plot. One of the stars of the season, Cavalo Nero, is known by a variety of names: its dark, straps of blistered leaves explain why many people refer to it as Black Kale and it is also known as Tuscan Kale or Lacinated Kale. Forget the idea of kale as tough-leaved cattle food; Cavalo Nero is tender and packed with nutrients. It has a sweet, nutty flavour and retains texture after cooking.

Seeds can be sown April-June either into a seed bed or in modules. Young plants should be set out about a foot apart. The plants are quirky in appearance and are said to resemble palm trees. Kale’s ability to withstand harsh weather makes it a great option for a winter vegetable. Protect from birds and use yellow sticky traps if whitefly is a problem.

Start picking leaves from the bottom up as soon as they are big enough to harvest. Steamed lightly it is the perfect accompaniment to winter stews. Leaves can also be blanched and used to wrap vegetable fillings. Cavalo Nero is a traditional ingredient in Tuscan Ribollata which Jamie Oliver describes as cheap, tasty, power food.  Here’s his recipe: Italian soup | Jamie Oliver recipes

The TDHS Blogger

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