Autumn is a season rich in culinary delights, and among the most precious treasures of autumn Italian cuisine is the kale. This dark green leafy vegetable – also known as ‘Tuscan kale’ or the ‘black cabbage of Tuscany’ – is a staple of Italian culinary tradition. Here’s a look at how this versatile and healthy ingredient can enrich many autumn dishes.
A pinch of history
Kale, scientifically known as Brassica oleracea var. sabellica, has a rather long history in Italy. Believed to have first been cultivated in Tuscany, hence the name ‘black cabbage of Tuscany’ However, it is now widespread throughout the country and is used in numerous regional recipes.
A healthy ally
Autumn is the ideal time to enjoy kale. Low temperatures encourage slow growth, allowing the kale to develop a richer taste and a more tender texture. Moreover, the dark green colour is a visual testimony to its nutritional richness, which is especially beneficial when the body needs energy to cope with shorter days and lower temperatures.
Besides having a delicious taste, kale is rich in vitamins (A, C, and K), minerals (such as calcium and iron) and antioxidants, which support the immune system. It is also a good source of dietary fibre, which contributes to healthy digestion and weight control.
A culinary resourc
When thinking of kale in recipes, it is impossible not to mention the ribollita, the queen soup of Tuscany, which combines kale, cannellini beans, stale bread and herbs like garlic and rosemary. The perfect treat for those cooler evenings when temperatures start to drop.
There are many other ways in which kale can also be used to great satisfaction. One of its qualities is also that it is versatile.
For example, it is excellent:
- raw: chopped or julienned, perfect in salads, accompanied by chopped nuts;
- cooked: boiled or stewed, perfect as a main ingredient in soups;
- dried: left to dry in the air, in a drier or in the oven, it is also perfect when reduced to powder or chips, to enrich many recipes with more flavour;
- fermented: perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but excellent both as a flavour and as an ingredient with a long shelf life;
- blended or centrifuged: an essential ingredient in fruit and vegetable smoothies that are good for the body
So here are some tips for using kale in the kitchen, starting with our recipes that you can revisit with your own creativity:
Kale pasta. Nothing could be easier: kale, cut into thin strips, can be added to a classic pasta with garlic, oil and chilli, for that extra touch of flavour and to create a colourful as well as mouth-watering dish.
Parmigiana risotto with kale chips. This is a fun variation of our risotto alla parmigiana, in which we replace the parmesan and paprika chips with kale chips which you have dried in the oven.
Bruschetta with kale and sausage. A match capable of winning anyone over. To make this very autumnal bruschetta, simply boil the kale (but first remove the central rib) and then sauté it in a pan with a little oil, salt and garlic. At this point, just follow the instructions for our bruschetta with sausage replacing the courgettes and cherry tomatoes with the pre-prepared kale.
To know the virtues of this green leafy vegetable is essential to experiment in the kitchen. With the right recipes and a dash of creativity, kale can become the unrivalled star of many autumn and winter meals.