Friday, 30 August 2013

Cavolo Nero

I love Italian food. If I had to pick one thing to live on for the rest of my life it would probably be pasta. So versatile, so classic, so soothing, so flipping delicious. I probably have some kind of pasta dish at least once a week but it is hard sometimes to make it more exciting and do something different with it.

I went to Sicily over the summer and it was a vegetarian Italian lover's dream! The local cuisine doesn't really involve much meat so there were plenty of delicious pastas and risottos and pizzas to choose from. And ice cream of course. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you get the chance.

Cavolo nero literally means black cabbage in italian, although it's more similar to kale. I had never seen it let alone eaten before it turned up in my veg bag last week. You can immediately just how tasty and healthy this veg is; a deep, deep green, it is absolutely choc full of vitamins K, A and C, and rich is lutein-which helps to keep eyes healthy. It is traditionally used in an Italian dish called 'ribollita', which literally means 'reboiled' as it was a way of using up leftovers. So I thought I'd give this historically important and famous dish a go myself, but with a bit of a twist of course!

pasta ribollita
Serves 4

a good glug of olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jar of tinned tomatoes
1 tin of cannellini beans
500ml vegetable stock
spring of rosemary
sprig of thyme
a hearty bunch of cavolo nero, shredded (not the tough stalks)
200g pasta
salt & pepper
vegetarian parmesan (optional)

Fry the onion, carrots and garlic on a medium heat with olive oil for about 10 minutes until soft.

Add the tomatoes, stock, beans, rosemary and thyme. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Add the cavolo nero and the pasta and season to taste. (You may need to add a bit more stock to cover the pasta.) Cook for another 10-12 minutes until the pasta is al dente.

This dish is traditionally a soup, so you will have quite a lot of liquid. However, I have since eaten the leftovers which had dried out a bit and it was just as good! For more of a sauce constintency, don't add as much stock/cook the sauce down for a bit longer.

Serve piping hot in bowls with a sprinkling of veggie parmesan.

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