Tuscan Kale: Raw Cavolo Nero Pesto

Pasta with raw cavolo nero pesto

Raw cavolo nero pesto is a fantastic way to make use of Tuscan kale, which is in season during the fall and winter months. Great in pastas and potato dishes, you will love it on crostini and bruschettas as well.

Cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) is a common staple in any Tuscan pantry. It’s the main ingredient in several traditional dishes, including ribollita, cavolo nero crostoni and farinata di cavolo nero (cornmeal and kale soup). Also known as Lacinato kale, cavolo nero is great in all kinds of pasta dishes. You can either cook it or eat it raw. The latter seems to me the best option when it comes to cavolo nero pesto. Although you can boil Tuscan kale to soften it, I find that it tastes best raw, especially when you got excellent fresh greens like the ones you can find at Florence’s farmer’s markets this time of the year. As with all raw recipes, make sure to use the best ingredients you can get.

As you will notice, this raw cavolo nero pesto is really just a list of ingredients. To make great pesto you don’t need a recipe with specific measures. Just taste it as you’re making it and you’ll know when it’s right.

Raw Cavolo Nero Pesto – Pesto di Cavolo Nero a Crudo

  • cavolo nero (or kale)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pine nuts
  • walnuts
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Wash the kale and chop it into small pieces.

Place the cavolo nero, pine nuts, walnuts, garlic, cheese and oil in a food processor. Reduce to a creamy paste (add more oil or a few tablespoons of water if needed). Add salt to taste. You can add to both pasta lunga (spaghetti, linguine, bucatini, tagliatelle) and pasta corta (I used Tuscan caserecce here, but penne, fusilli and rigatoni work fine, too).

To store, put in a glass jar, cover the surface of the pesto with extra virgin olive oil and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.