Black Kale (Cavolo Nero)

Black Kale (Cavolo Nero)

General Information: This very dark green kale variety is more common in Italy where it goes by the name Cavolo Nero. It is becoming easier to find so-called Tuscan kale at the markets in Switzerland. It is generally prepared in the same way as the more common green kale varieties. The flavor is similar, although I think it has a more pronounced cabbage flavor – probably because it is not generally exposed to a frost like the other kale varieties. I like to cook this variety of kale by slicing it, then stewing in olive oil for about 20 minutes. It is quite good served with a risotto or as an accompaniment to polenta.

Season: From the end of September until the beginning of March. The best tasting black kale comes to the market after a cold spell.

Purchasing Tips: Look for strong stems and deep color in the leaves. Older kale will go limp and show signs of yellowing around the leaf edges. Tiny bugs often infest the leaves of black kale, especially if the weather is too warm. Make sure to give the kale a quick rinse and then shake the leaves quickly (preferably outside) to get rid of the bugs.

Storage: Refrigerate up to 4 days wrapped in plastic.

Cooking Tips: Extended cooking tends to increase bitterness and destroy some of the nutritional value. Consider slicing the leaves and stems thin, and either steaming the kale or stir-frying in a little water or oil.

Nutritional Info: Kale is high in vitamins C & K, and an excellent source of calcium and caratenoids. Like its cousin broccoli, kale also contains a sulphur chemical compound which has significant anti-cancer properties.

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