Cavolo nero: learn how to cook cavolo nero to perfection

This cavolo nero recipe will make you fall in love with curly kale's cousin. And that's a promise

Cavolo nero
(Image credit: Getty)

Cavolo nero, curly kale, Italian black cabbage... all these terms refer to the same loose, leafy cabbage from Tuscany. And although cavolo nero is not kale – think of it as kale's cousin – it does behave like kale when being cooked, and some will argue that it tastes better.

We have a straightforward cavolo nero recipe that makes for a surprisingly delicious vegetable side for most dishes. It's the perfect green addition to other meals too, think pasta, quinoa and the likes, so all the options to be healthy are very much all available to you! The key is to cook it correctly and season it well. 

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How to cook cavolo nero


To serve as a side dish for two, you will need:

  • Cavolo nero leaves, 250 grams
  • Olive oil, two tablespoons
  • Unsalted butter, 50 grams
  • A garlic clove, peeled
  • Salt, to taste
  • The juice of a lemon


1. Remove the tough bottom part of the stalks, and cut the leaves across into strips.

2. Add to a pan of salted boiling water, cook for about 10 minutes until tender but still firm in the middle.

3. Drain and rest. In a frying pan, warm up the oil and butter and add the garlic clove.  Add the cavolo nero, season generously and fry for five to seven minutes, until soft and fully coated in the buttery mixture. Just as you're finishing cooking, squeeze the lemon juice over the leaves. Season more if needed and serve in a bowl. 

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Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.