GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.
Tuscan Kale – I prefer this to any other variety for it’s flavour and ornamental look when it’s mixed among a flowering border.

I was sitting in Brunswick Heads the other day having my hair cut by Gini, hairdresser extraordinaire (and roller derby queen), when she asked me what you do with a garden full of kale?

I have to admit that it has taken me a while to warm to all kinds of ‘greens’ – for they are too redolent of my childhood school dinners and the pervasive smell of boiled cabbage lingering in the damp corridors, along with malingering, bored teenagers.

Kale has changed all of that.  It’s fancy name of cavolo nero just means black cabbage in Italian. (It’s like finding out the Casanova just means Newhouse!)  It becomes every day instead of exotic.

It’s part of the large cabbage family of Brassicaceae – botanic name Brassica oleracea  – and therefore susceptible to pests of this family – particularly the cabbage white butterfly.  

What changed my mind?; it’s incredibly easy to grow, cold hardy and long lived, it doesn’t smell when you are cooking it, it’s extremely versatile to cook with and very good for you at the same time.

KALE is very nutritious: a good source of folate, vitamin K, iron, iodine, calcium and Vitamin C and fibre.

TIP:  When the stems get long and leggy, just cut the top off and it will sprout from all sides giving tender, new succulent growth.  Just make sure it gets some water and you give it a liquid feed.

Cavolo Nero and Bean Soup:  This is a delicious Sicilian recipe (freeze what you don’t use)

400g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and cooked in salted water until tender (they are firmer than the canned variety but they can be used instead)
2tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
2 sticks celery, diced
1 carrot. chopped
1 brown onion, chopped
1.5 litres chickenor vegetable stock
1 cup halved, fresh cherry tomatoes
200g cavolo nero, shredded (discard thick stems)
Shaved parmesan, to serve
Juice of a lemon

1.  Heat 2 tbs of oil and saute onion, carrot and celery for about 5-10 minutes stirring often.
2.  Add tomatoes, stock, cavolo nero and beans and simmer for another 15 minutes.
3.  Add salt and black pepper to taste
4.  Serve topped with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of olive with crusty bread 
5.  I like to add the juice of a lemon.  See what you think


Other ways to use kale:

Sauteed:  Shred it, removing the midrib, and blanch in hot water for about three minutes.
Meanwhile heat a fry pan or wok with some olive oil.  Toss the wilted kale in the hot oil for about 1 minute.  Add sea salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.  Serve with any kind of meat or fish.  You can use beetroot tops in the same way – they are delicious and a favourite in Greek cuisine.

Breakfast:  Blanch some cavolo nero (stems removed), drain and chop roughly.  Divide between individual buttered ovenproof dishes and break two eggs into eat dish.  Add a handful of grated cheddar cheese (can be feta), salt, cayenne pepper and bake in a moderate oven until cheese is golden and eggs are cooked. (You can add a bit of cream too)

With pasta:  Saute some day old sourdough bread crumbs with olive oil, anchovies, fresh chilli and lemon zest.  Meanwhile blanch some shredded cavolo nero.  Mix together with fine spaghetti.  Drizzle with olive oil and top with freshly grated parmesan.

MORE DELICIOUS BEAN DISHES – click on the link below

  1. Gigantes plaki – Greek baked beans


  1. How do I stop caterpillars eating my kale?

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