This cavolo nero pasta is a filling and delicious supper using the season's finest cavolo nero with a traditional Italian walnut sauce.
Everyone needs speedy recipes for busy days, don't they. And all too often they can end up as the boring and unimaginative ones. We need a quick dinner on the go, so it ends up being a compromise, both nutritionally and creatively.
Well that's why I've been working on my '20 minute meals' series - trying to create really delicious and nutritious dinners that will be on the table in a flash, with no faffing around.
This lovely recipe started with a bunch of cavolo nero in our veg box that I was wondering what to do with. The idea for this deliciously rich walnut sauce came from a lovely and traditional Italian pasta dish I tried at the recent Food Blogger Connect conference. It was just served on a paper plate with a plastic fork, but was memorable enough for me to have been experimenting with my own version ever since!
❔What is Cavolo Nero?
Cavolo Nero (sometimes knows as black kale, Tuscan kale, Lacinato kale or even dinosaur kale!), is a wonderful vegetable from the brassica family that I don't use often enough. It originates from Tuscany, and has the deep, mineral-y sweetness of kale, with a lovely bobbly texture.
You can cook it in all sorts of ways - boiled, steamed, stir-fried, even roasted, but I've included my favourite with the pasta dish below: quickly blanched in boiling water then sautéed in a little olive oil.
This retains some of the bite, but also its deep, green colour, (and therefore probably lots of lovely vitamins and minerals too).
📝 What you need
- Cavolo nero (or curly kale would also work well if you can't find it)
- Garlic clove
- Fresh parsley
- Walnut pieces
- Pappardelle pasta (linguine or tagliatelle are good alternatives)
- Slice of bread
- Olive oil
- Dairy-free milk (unsweetened oat, soya or nut milk)
- Vegan parmesan (optional - or nutritional yeast flakes)
You will need some sort of blender, food processor or mini-chopper to make the walnut sauce. I have a small and a large one, and use whichever is easiest for the quantity I am making.
For small quantities I use my Breville Active Compact Food Processor* which at £30 is a bargain and really handy for all sorts of small chopping and blending jobs in the kitchen.
Or for big quantities for the freezer, I will get out my Magimix Pro Food Processor* which has three different sized bowls for any size job. (This one was a gift for review from Magimix some years ago, but I'm a big fan and haven't ever been paid to say so!).
At a push you could also use a stick blender in a bowl, but you would need to break up the bread into small pieces first and it may be a little messier!
Whilst the pasta and cavolo nero are not really freezer-friendly, the walnut sauce definitely is and in fact I usually make a double batch whilst I'm at it, and freeze one.
A lovely thing to have a pot of on standby in the freezer, and on Sunday evenings when the fridge is bare and I can't be fussed to spend ages in the kitchen, pasta with walnut sauce and leftover green veg is an excellent supper.
⭐️ Reader Testimonials
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Have made this twice now, we love it. A great recipe and encouraged us to try Cavolo Nero for the first time." Emma
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Cavolo Nero Pasta with walnut sauce
- 200 g cavolo nero curly kale would also work well here
- 100 g walnut pieces
- 180 g pappardelle pasta or linguine or tagliatelle would work just as well
- 1 slice bread
- 150 g dairy-free milk (unsweetened oat, soya or nut milk)
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- 4 tbsp vegan parmesan optional - or 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil
- Remove the woody stalks from the cavolo nero, and cut it into rough slices/chunks.
- Heat a frying pan, tip in the walnuts, (there's no need to add any oil), and toast over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the cavolo nero for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove it to a sieve or colander (leaving the boiling water in the pan), and set aside.
- Add the pappardelle to the boiling water, and boil for 8-10 minutes until cooked to your taste.
- Meanwhile, tip the toasted walnuts, bread, plant milk, parsley, garlic and vegan parmesan (if you are using it) into a blender or food processor, and blitz until it reaches a thick sauce consistency. Season well with salt and black pepper.
- Heat the frying pan once again, add a little olive oil, and tip in the cavolo nero. Cook for 3-4 minutes then turn off the heat.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the saucepan. Tip in the walnut sauce, and stir to combine. Finally, add the cavolo nero, toss together, then divide between two plates.
- Jac's Meat Free Mondays over at Tinned Tomatoes
- Emily's Recipe of the Week over at A Mummy Too
- Veggie Desserts, Michelle Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Helen's Extra Veg