Cavolo Nero, also known as Tuscan Kale cavolo-nero-tuscan-kale, is widely used in soups (the most famous is the Tuscan Ribollita), but it is also perfect to combine with pasta or Risotto, like this one. We paired it with Pancetta which was browned together with ‘Nduja, a spicy Calabrian spreadable salami paste nduja-the-calabrian-spicy-spreadable-salami-paste. No need making the vegetable broth, the cooking water in which the cavolo nero has been blanched is more than enough.

Serves 4, Preparation: 20 mins, Cooking: approx.40 mins

  • 250 g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 600 g Cavolo Nero
  • 100 g diced smoked Pancetta
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, a pinch
  • EVOO, Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Calabrian ‘Nduja, a dash
  • 1 litre hot water
  • half a glass of dry white wine
  • Grated Parmigiano cheese, 2 handful
  • Cold unsalted butter, a dash


Fry the chopped onion with pancetta in a pan with a tablespoon of EVOO for about 2 mins. Add a teaspoon of ‘Nduja Calabrese, stir. Keep aside.

Clean the leaves of Cavolo Nero from the hardest parts, break the leaves into pieces.

Blanch them in a litre of boiling water for about 10 minutes, use a skimmer to remove them from the water without throwing it away since it will be used to cook the Risotto. Just keep it hot.

Set aside few leaves, put the rest in a blender together with a tablespoon of EVOO, a pinch of salt and black pepper, a bit of cooking water of the cavolo nero that you kept aside, blend and puree it. Set aside.

In a saucepan toast the rice, stirring constantly and as soon as it becomes translucent, add half a glass of dry white wine. Add a ladleful of hot cooking water, stir, add another ladleful a little at a time as soon as the water dries up, stir again, season with salt and pepper. Now add the pureed cavolo nero, stir again over a low heat and add more water as soon as it dries out, always a little at a time.

Remove from the heat, add a generous handful of grated Parmigiano and cold butter, stir quickly and serve with spicy pancetta and cavolo nero leaves on top.

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