Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto

When most people think of pesto, the traditional Genoese version, made with basil and pine nuts, comes to mind. In this rendition, sweet and nutty cavolo nero (also known as Tuscan kale or Lacinato kale) replaces both of those ingredients. This recipe is based on one in The River Cafe Cook Book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers (Ebury Press, 1995).

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food

Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto
In this rendition of pesto the sweet and nutty cavolo nero replaces both the basil and pine nuts.
Yield: serves 4


  • 2 12 lb. cavolo nero, trimmed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 lb. dried farfalle
  • 1 12 cups grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add cavolo nero and 2 cloves garlic; cook until bright green, 3–4 minutes. Drain; transfer cavolo nero and garlic to a food processor; pulse to a purée. Pour in 14 cup of the oil while pulsing to form a pesto; transfer to a bowl.
  2. Crush remaining 2 garlic cloves with sea salt; stir into pesto with 14 cup of the oil.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add farfalle; cook until al dente, 10 minutes. Drain; add pasta to bowl of pesto. Fold in parmigiano-reggiano, remaining 12 cup of oil, and salt and pepper.