Cavolo Nero with Pasta and Almonds

Cooking Cavolo Nero

We’re through the woods; spring has well and truly sprung. A cursory glance through the window to my left yields sunshine aplenty, the light blue of the sky etched temporarily onto my retina. Celebrating the best of the winter remnants and the lighter dishes brought by the oncoming spring, my recipe for Cavolo Nero with Pasta and Almonds makes an excellent addition to any early year repertoire.

For those of you who haven’t heard of cavolo nero – apparently many haven’t – it’s an Italian variety of loose leafed cabbage, known for its dark, rich colour. Closely related to kale, it’s rather a hardy vegetable, but shouldn’t be mistreated; overcooking is the cardinal sin.

What Is Cavolo Nero Cabbage

Clearly, cavolo nero is a special ingredient. You can tell that just by looking at it. And what could be more appropriate to accompany such a rich and slightly sweet Tuscan brassica than an exquisite pasta; tufoli, with its curved ridges will do nicely.

But cavolo nero with pasta alone would never be quite right. What you need is some texture; something to punctuate the soft monotony of pasta and cabbage. What you need is a handful of almonds, toasted and scattered into the pot. The crunch is quite satisfying and the flavour combines beautifully.

Cavolo Nero How To Cook

For more pasta dishes, perfect for the brighter weather of spring, see my recipes for Kale and Cabbage Pasta and Spicy Chorizo and Tomato Pasta…

Cavolo Nero with Pasta and Almonds

Serves 2


  • 200g pasta, tufoli, rigatoni or similar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed
  • a large handful of cavolo nero, thickly sliced
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 large red chilli. finely sliced
  • 40g almonds, whole
  • a twist of black pepper
  • a few shavings of parmesan cheese


  1. Pop your pasta on to boil in generously salted water. Don’t overcook, it should retain a little bite.
  2. Meanwhile, take a large pan and gently fry the garlic in the olive oil. After 30 seconds add the sliced cavolo nero and pop the lid on.
  3. Cook the cavolo nero on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until slightly wilted. In a separate pan toast the whole almonds until golden brown.
  4. Drain the pasta and allow to steam dry for 30 seconds. Return to the pot and stir through the cavolo nero, almonds, salt and chilli.
  5. Serve immediately with a twist of black pepper and few shavings of parmesan cheese.

How To Cook Cavolo Nero Cabbage Cavolo Nero Cabbage Recipe
Cost: Brassicas aren’t known for being expensive vegetables, and that trend continues with cavolo nero. With a large bunch of the stuff costing in the region of £1.50, the amount used in this recipe is about 75p worth. Having established that, this recipe – enough for two – should set you back no more than £1.50.

15 comments on “Cavolo Nero with Pasta and Almonds

  1. linda humphreys
    April 19, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    This will work very well with purple sprouting broccoli, and with the smaller leaves on the plant that are not attached to the sprouts – just tried it and it was a blast!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 28, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Yes it will – I’ve eaten so much PSB recently too. What a lovely ingredient.

  2. Cecilia Mary Gunther
    April 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    simple and perfect, as always love the images .. c

  3. Jasline @ Foodie Baker
    April 20, 2015 at 6:47 am

    I have to admit, I’ve never heard of cavolo nero, but it certainly reminds me of kale. This pasta dish looks amazing and delicious!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      It’s very similar to kale, but has a little more flavour in my opinion. Thanks!

  4. cateinthekitchen
    April 20, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Never tried almonds in pasta before! Lovvvvve cavalo nero, this looks lush.

    • frugalfeeding
      April 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks, Cate – the almonds were a really good addition actually. I just rooted around the cupboards!

  5. Chica Andaluza
    April 20, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Beautiful and I love the addition of almonds in this dish!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 27, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      They just add a little interest – a crunch!

  6. Maggie
    April 21, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    I made this last night …… WAITROSE sells Cavalo Nero ….. £1.50 a large bunch…. Hubbie and I are greedy so I used whole bunch and used a few more cloves of garlic cos I love garlic ….. and it was delic. It even looked Like yours!!, I just love all your re ipes …. I feel as if I have a private chef on hand!! Thank you so much. Chicken Laksa tomorrow!

    • frugalfeeding
      April 27, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      That’s not too bad a price actually! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe – how did the laksa go?

  7. adamjclements
    April 23, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Cavalo nero pulls down the pants of kale. Love it!

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