I hate winter. I really, really, really hate winter. I hate that it doesn't get light until 7:30 and it's dark around 16:00. I hate that it's not even a real winter, with real snow and real winter coats for sale (everything's a fashion item here, at least for women, unless you want to pay a couple hundred pounds). I hate that everyone stresses out about a holiday which riddles them with guilt and feeling of forced obligation.
But I love Cavolo Nero, and as it's one of the few seasonal vegetables available only in the growing season here in the UK, it's one thing that keeps winter bright for me. It charms me year after year; I forget by the time summer comes that it exists and just when I'm starting to feel I'll never last the winter, it appears on the supermarket shelves.
Also known as Tuscan kale, black kale, black cabbage, and dinosaur kale, cavolo nero is a popular Italian vegetable and is a quite versatile one at that. The thing I really love about kale generally is the texture. I love that there's a green you can boil, fry, or bake, and after all that it still has a chewable texture and doesn't go slimey.
What do you do with it, you ask? Well, this is one food that I like pretty simple, fried up with a bit of garlic and shallot, with some added vinegar.
Basic Fried Dinosaur Kale
- Cut the leaf away from the thick stems and, if possible, feed to my cats (who love kale stems, apparently). Cut the leaves into to smaller pieces.
- Fry the shallots in a little olive oil, over medium heat, until soft (a couple of minutes). Add chilli flakes, garlic, cavalo nero, and a little bit of water. Stir often to prevent the cavalo nero from burning to the pan (though I confess I like it to be a little burnt!).
- Once the kale has cooked down a bit, add the white wine vinegar and stir for a further minute. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- If using, add the deep fried tofu. Stir quickly until tofu is heated and leave for another minute or two (or until kale is cooked to your liking). Stir the margarine in just before serving.