Cavolo Nero and Chervil Pasta Sauce

About this time of year I begin to really miss the days of summer when I can wander out to the garden and pick fresh veg and herbs. There's not much out there at the moment but two things that have survived the winter and are still looking good today are the Cavolo Nero and some late-sown chervil plants. It was too tempting to ignore. So this recipe is loosely based on a River Café pasta dish combined, probably rather inelegantly, with a French sauce made of chervil, garlic and walnut oil.
Cavolo Nero
A week or so ago I heard a pompous Italian gentleman saying that all civilised people would agree that Italian olive oil is the best in the world and buying anything else would be a form of madness. A few days later I heard a pompous Frenchman saying pretty much the same thing about French olive oil. As a result I used Spanish olive oil for this dish.

This should be enough for 2 people. Italian varieties of kale aren't essential for this recipe, but the flavour and colour of cavolo nero is excellent.

130 g (or thereabouts) of cavolo nero(or other kale) leaf, minus the stems
½ a large clove or 1 whole small clove of garlic, peeled
2 – 3 tbsp chervil leaves
50 – 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp walnut oil
Squeeze of lemon
Farfalle – or something like it
Some parmesan for grating

Blanch the kale leaves in boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes (it might take a little longer if the kale is particularly tough). Drain the kale thoroughly and put in a food processor with the garlic and the chervil. Process briefly to chop up the leaves, then pour in the walnut oil and 30 ml of the olive oil. Process until you get a dark green paste. Season well.

Mix freshly-cooked farfalle into the sauce, adding a dash of the pasta cooking water and as much of the extra oil as needed to give a nice coating consistency. Add a squeeze of lemon and grate over some parmesan just before serving - don't add the lemon too early or you might spoil the deep green colour.

I was going to take a picture of the finished dish, but it got dark. But we all know what pasta looks like anyway, I suppose.


  1. This is a delicious kale for making pasta sauce with. I love that your's is dairy free (apart from the Parmesan) because my recipe calls for feta cheese and members of my family are lactose intolerant - so thanks for!

  2. Phil, I love reading your posts because you always make me laugh...(Spanish olive oil) and your photographs are beautiful, Thank you for brightening my evening.

  3. You have a wonderful blog here. I have enjoyed browsing through your posts!
    This sauce sounds wonderful. I will try it with my pasta soon!

  4. Thanks for the lovely comments everyone. Without wanting to spoil the (almost) dairy free nature of this sauce I have to say some feta with the few remaining bits of cavolo nero in the garden sounds a pretty good idea to me for one evening this week.


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