When I was debating What Not to Grow for 2013, Alan from It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening!, suggested that along with my everyday stuff, I should grow something new every year. This comment, together with a good harvest at the weekend, has prompted me to write a post declaring my undying love for 2012’s experiment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I love Cavolo Nero.
Cavolo Nero is an Italian leafy green and used widely in many staple Italian meals. Up until this year, I’d never heard of it – probably largely due to the veg not being particularly readily available in the UK. Apparently you can find a few leaves in Waitrose, but that’s your lot most of the time.
Cavolo Nero is very similar to kale, another vegetable I adore, and it shares many of the qualities that make kale so awesome to grow.
Hardy and Dependable
The plant is extremely hardy and will last through the worst that most British winters can throw at it. That means that when the plot is bare, Cavolo Nero is there, still providing fresh greens for the dinner table
The best thing about Cavolo Nero is the slight sweetness of the leaves. During winter, they’re a welcome contrast to the other wintery greens available, like cabbage and kale. I was genuinely surprised by the delicious taste when I tucked into my first leaves.
In Italy, Cavolo Nero gets used in all sorts of meals, from soups to salads, and also as a complement for meat and fish dishes. We’ve put the leaves in stir-fries, this warming Thai chicken noodle soup, and simply boiled them to go with a meal.
Cavolo Nero contains vitamins B, K, A and C, fibre, calcium, and iron. I’m not entirely sure what they all do, but I’m told its all good for you…
Cavolo Nero Looks Amazing
I’ll happily admit I’m a function over appearance kind of growing guy, but I can appreciate attractive veg when I see one. Cavolo Nero is definitely a looker, with its deep green, crumbly leaves. I’d even go as far as saying that a plant like this wouldn’t look out of place in a decorated bed.
Easy to Grow
I’ve found Cavolo Nero easy to grow this year. I sowed seeds into small pots of multi-purpose compost in April and planted out onto the open plot during May. There wasn’t much else to it. The plants didn’t require huge amounts of water and interestingly didn’t succumb to the whitefly as much as the other brassicas around it.
Like Alan, I do love to try a new variety of vegetables each year, and my Cavolo Nero has really confirmed this. Discovering this vegetable has brightened up both my plot and my kitchen, and is now a permanent fixture on the What Definitely To Grow 2013 list.