Spaghetti with cavolo nero, garlic and chilli

22 May 2019
spaghetti with cavelo nero

This recipe was developed for us by local chef, food writer, caterer and teacher, Alan Rosenthal. Find out more about him and his recipes on his website or follow him on Instagram.


I love cavolo nero’s rich iron flavour. This, combined with caramelised garlic and crushed chilli flakes, makes for a great pasta sauce that takes literally minutes to make. The recipe below is pretty versatile; if you don’t blitz the cooked cavolo and leave out the pasta, you’ve instead got yourself a great side veg; two recipes in one!

When I was developing the recipe, I had some of the cavolo mixture left in the fridge so decided to sandwich it between two slices of sourdough bread and turn it into a pimped up toasted cheese sandwich. Scrumptious!


Serves 2



200g dried spaghetti

100g cavolo nero, trimmed of all of its stalks and then roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

Generous pinch of chilli flakes

Extra virgin olive oil

Zest of half a lemon

40g Parmesan or hard Italian cheese, finely grated

Salt & black pepper



Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salted water. Meanwhile prepare the sauce.

Heat 3 tbsp extra virgin olive in a wide heavy based pan. Once hot, add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook on a medium heat for around 2-3 minutes until the garlic has turned golden. Now add the cavolo and a pinch of salt and allow it to wilt down for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring regularly.

Once the cavolo is extremely soft, transfer to a food processor along with 1 tbsp of pasta cooking water. Blitz until very finely chopped (you can always do this by hand, but it obviously takes much longer).

Once cooked, drain the pasta, reserving a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Transfer the spaghetti back into the pan and add the puréed cavolo, lots of black pepper and ½ of the reserved pasta cooking water. Give it a good mix to distribute everything and then add the cheese and lemon zest, stirring and tossing everything together until the cheese has melted into the hot pasta; add a little more of the pasta water if you feel it’s looking a little dry. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve in bowls topped with more grated cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Recipe type: