Kale or black cabbage, cavolo nero?
this has been many times a question.
For Italian speaking people it seems strange as we have only the word cavolo that covers cabbage and Kale. Then we have different names for the various ones.
Kale or leaf cabbage, belongs to a group of cabbage (Brassica oleracea) grown for their edible leaves, some are used as ornamentals.
Kale plants have green or purple leaves, and the central leaves do not form a head as with headed cabbage.
The different varieties of cabbage have numerous uses in the kitchen. They are widely used in Italian cuisine, and also in European and Asian cuisine, both raw and cooked. For each variety there are special recipes and uses.
The nutritional value and benefits of cabbage and kale have been recognized, especially for rebuilding the body’s mineral reserves. But we do not want to go into this. There are much more experienced people who can explain the advantages of this vegetable used for centuries.
Let’s go back to the name in Italian cavolo nero, in English it has many names, probably because of the first importers.
It is definitely a kale but the word kale is normally more used for the curly kale, less common in Italian cuisine.
If we classify by leaf type, we have:
- Curly-leaf (Scots kale, blue curled kale)
- Bumpy-leaf (black cabbage, better known by its Italian translation ‘cavolo nero’, and also known as Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale,lacinato and dinosaur kale)
- Plain-leaf (flat-leaf types like red Russian and white Russian kale)
- Leaf and spear, or feathery-type leaf (a cross between curly- and plain-leaf)
- Ornamental (less palatable and tougher leaves)
After long research also with seed producers in the various countries we have a collection of names for the cavolo nero, that could be extended if your supermarket decides to change the name.
Black cabbage Cavolo Nero
Tuscan kale aka Lacinato kale aka Dinosaur Kale
Even Amazon.com calls it Nero di Toscana
Kale Lacinato/Dinosaur/Black Tuscan
Have a look at www.incredibleseeds.ca
Tuscan Cavolo Nero /Nero di Toscana as The Diggers Club call it after bringing it in Australia 25 years ago
In EUROPE it seems much easier as it’s usually a pure translation of Cavolo Nero
in German Schwarzkohl
in French chou noir
in Dutch zwarte Kool
in Spanish repollo negro
in Polish czarna kapusta.
We concentrated on the Cavolo Nero because it is so common in Tuscan recipes, it can be replaced by other cabbages but there can always be a little difference in flavor. Kale typically tastes milder than regular cabbage, and young kale leaves and black kale (aka cavolo nero) have a milder flavor than mature leaves of curly kale.
” That is also why it is best to use baby kale or black kale if you want to whip up a kale smoothie that tastes good”, said by a smoothie expert, not me.
These are some Cavolo Nero recipes:
Quick Tuscan Black Cabbage Sauce
Traditional Crostoni with Black Cabbage
Buon appetito with healthy food !!!
Thank you for a lesson in cavology! 🙂 In Denmark and Germany we usually have the curly one. There are so many interesting vegetables in Toskana. I have a cookbook with recipes from Toskana. Even though it is not a vegetarian cookbook, two thirds of the recipes are vegetarian.
Actually Tuscany is well known for meat recipes but there are many vegetarian ones. Sincerely all over Italy it is like that, probably because being a Mediterranean country we have availability to many vegetables.
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