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Black Italian cabbage has a thick central stalk and produces long, fat, spear-like leaves that have wrinkled, bubbled surfaces. The dark blue-green leaves will grow up to 46 centimeters long and 11 centimeters at their widest. Young leaves are harvested between 15 and 20 centimeters when the stalks are still tender. As the leaves mature, they thicken, and stalks become tough. Black Italian cabbage offers a subtle peppery flavor with a tangy bite and sweet aftertaste.
Young, tender leaves are used raw in green or grain salads. They can be used as wrappers for cheese, shrimp, and risotto. The thick leaves can be sliced or chopped and used as a substitute for romaine in Cesar salad, braised, tossed into pasta dishes, soups, stews, egg dishes.
Store Black Italian cabbage in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Wrapping the bottoms of the stems in a wet cloth will keep them from drying out.
Cavolo Nero with rosemary and chilli
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 medium or hot fresh red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
250g cavolo nero, trimmed of tough stems, rinsed and cut
salt and freshly ground black pepper