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Claiming my corner of freedom: home-made tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto

When we filmed this video recipe, it was winter, it was cold, but I had spring in my heart. We were close to the beginning of a new, intense season of cooking classes. There were a few, interesting projects I could not wait to be working on. My only concern, at that time, was that I did not have enough free time to work on personal projects, to read books, to bake with my sourdough and work on new recipes. In hindsight, such silly worries.

Then the big fear, the spread of Corona Virus in the North of Italy, and after a few days the whole country in lockdown. This left me in a state of haze.

I pondered whether to keep the regular schedule of posts here on Juls’ Kitchen, then I realised this blog will be, once more, the outlet of my creativity, a source of inspiration for us, to find new stories and recipes to share, and for those searching for honest, reliable home food. I don’t want to hide my concerns, or stick my head in the sand, but I intend to work, write, cook and photograph to keep me sane, to recreate a creative routine in the days of lockdown, to be prepared for what will come, once these absurd times will be over.

Home-made tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto

We are lucky to live in the countryside, with a garden and a chicken coop, a well-stocked pantry and close to our family.

Our business came to an abrupt halt, but this doesn’t mean we can’t find inspiration in the current situation. You can re-evaluate your habits, understand what you really value. I’ve always lamented a lack of time to develop personal projects, so this can be the time, the time to write, cook, research and explore, the time to write the book I’ve kept in a drawer for too long, the time to take a step towards new experiences.

And I am sure, I am sure that when these absurd, hard times will be over, we’ll experience a new Renaissance.

It will be like in the fabulous ‘60s, with Marcello Mastroianni and Sofia Loren, like when we won the Football World Cup and the sky over Berlin was blue. Everyone will be celebrating in the streets. The music, the food, the hugs with family and friends, restaurants full of people toasting to a new beginning, songs on the beach, walks hand in hand. People will open their chairs back in the streets, chatting and sharing a wedge of cold watermelon.

But for the moment, we’ll stay at home.

I’m proud to be Italian, proud of what we are doing in this difficult time, and I am sure we’ll get through this and we will rediscover a new country, which will be waiting with open arms for everyone to come back, to enjoy our food, our art and culture, our cities and countryside, the mountains and the seaside, but mainly, our generous hospitality.
In the meantime, we cook and make fresh pasta…

Home-made tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto

Home-made tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto

Now, on the verge of Spring, I still have a couple of winter recipes to share.

Cavolo nero is the most common, everyday ingredient in a Tuscan winter. You find it at the market, its waxy, dark green leaves hoarded in bunches next to other representatives of the Brassica genus. Cavolo nero is the key ingredient of the world famous ribollita, a bean and stale bread soup, but also a versatile seasonal ingredient.

The combination of cavolo nero and nuts works magnificently in a winter pesto, for example.

Sturdy cavolo nero stands in for summer-y basil leaves, while a handful of almonds is a good replacement for more expensive pine nuts. The result is a dark green, nutty, and slightly bitter pesto that you can toss into a bowl of spaghetti or tagliatelle for a quick weeknight meal. Use it as it is, or top it with toasted almond slivers, crunchy pancetta bits, or crumbled fresh goat cheese.

To make fresh pasta tagliatelle, follow this recipe.

Home-made tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto


Tuscan kale pesto

The combination of cavolo nero and nuts works magnificently in a winter pesto. Sturdy cavolo nero stands in for summer-y basil leaves, while a handful of almonds is a good replacement for more expensive pine nuts
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dressing for pasta
Cuisine Tuscan
Servings 8 - 10 people


  • 500 g cavolo nero, Tuscan kale
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 200 ml extra virgin olive oil , + 2 tablespoons
  • 150 g almonds
  • 100 g aged Tuscan pecorino
  • Salt
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  • Strip the leaves off of the cavolo nero and remove the fibrous stalks. Rinse the leaves under running water and gather them in a large pan with two tablespoons of oil and a whole clove of garlic. It will seem like a lot of cavolo nero, but it tends to shrink. You don’t need to preheat the oil.
  • Cook the cavolo nero over medium heat, turning it often with a wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes, until it softens. Remove the cavolo nero from the pan and let it cool down.
  • Toast the almonds in a pan for about 5 minutes, tossing them often. Let them cool down, too.
  • Transfer the cavolo nero to a food processor, along with the almonds. Blend, adding the olive oil in a thin stream, until you get a smooth and thick, dark green pesto.
  • Scrape the pesto into a bowl, add the grated pecorino cheese, and season with salt, if necessary. If it is still too thick, add more olive oil.
  • Use it immediately or keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, covered with a film of olive oil to prevent it from blackening.
  • If you want to use the cavolo nero pesto to dress pasta, put a few tablespoons of pesto in the bottom of a bowl and dilute it with some pasta water, to emulsify it into a sauce, then toss in the pasta.


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How can I help you?

Whether you are in Italy, somewhere else in Europe, in the US, in Canada or in Australia, you might be experiencing what we just lived here in our country. The fear, the confusion, the feeling of being helpless and powerless.

I’m not a doctor, a nurse, or a politician. I can’t tell you how you should behave, or when this situation will be over, but I cook. I’ve been cooking and teaching for a living for over a decade now, so if I can help you with recipes, with pantry staples, with fresh pasta or a basic bread loaf, ask me, send me an email, find me on Social Media. This is the time to share, to support each other and to find joy and solace in honest, home cooked food.

How to support our business?

When the lockdown of Italy began, I was worried because I didn’t know what the future would bring to small businesses like ours. You asked us how you could support our business now that all classes have been cancelled for months and that most of our projects are in standby.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and support: they helped us immensely, as you gave us many ideas and tips on how to get through this difficult moment. 

So, if you want to help us, you can do one of the following things.

  • Share our cooking classes and edible experiences with your friends, as when this absurd time will be over, we’ll be ready to welcome you all back to cook up a storm in our studio. As a plus, in these days of lockdown, I’m working on so many new recipes that I can’t wait to share with you (think about sourdough focaccia!).
  • Share our recipes and our podcast, Cooking with an Italian Accent, with your family, your friends and on Social Media. Our recipes are simple, seasonal ideas, often based on all those ingredients that you have already in your pantry. This might be an interesting post right now: A Tuscan pantry – Staple ingredients, recipes and a tuna sauce.
  • Buy and review our cookbook, From the Markets of Tuscany. If possible, purchase it from small independent bookstores, as to support their business, too.
  • If you think that our Podcast is interesting and relevant for Italian food lovers, you can leave a review. How to do it? At the moment, just Apple users can leave a review, but it is very simple and straightforward. Open the Podcast App, click on our podcast and scroll to the bottom of the podcast main page. There, you can rate and review the show. This will help us enormously to be more visible, so that new people can discover us and share the same passion for Italian food.
  • If you are dreaming about a future trip to Italy and you are planning to include Tuscany in your itinerary, you can buy from us a gift certificate to attend a cooking class. Just send us an email and we’ll give you all the info.
  • To shorten the distance, in a time of social isolation, and to bring some Tuscany in your kitchen, we also just launched a Patreon project, a community of Tuscan food lovers to get exclusive access to video recipes and tutorials, step by step recipes and foodie guides to different areas of Tuscany. I’ll help you build a Tuscan cooking repertoire, made of reliable family style recipes, to bring Italy into your daily life and kitchen. I’ll share the backstage of the recipes I’m developing for the blog and we will discuss the new episodes of our podcast, Cooking with an Italian Accent. You can learn more about it here.

Home-made tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for your Tuscan Pesto recipe which sounds lovely and I can’t wait to try it out. Kale is very reasonably priced here in UK at the moment and almonds instead of pine nuts again will reduce the cost. I have the ingredients in so will give it a try. Also I hope to make your Grandmother’s Lemon Pudding to go with it ?
    which sounds and looks delicious. I am enjoying reading your blogs and thank you for keeping us sane and occupied and taking our minds away from other things for a while especially when we know what you are going through at this terrible time.

    I have been a member of your blog now for a few months and like you and mostly everyone I guess there is never enough time in our lives to give anything our full attention……….until now! Who would have thought that anything like this would or even could happen to us globally, it’s surreal but of course, like our previous generations with the Wars, it is now our turn to be brave and we have to confront it head on. We can and will all get through this together one way or another. China is just seeing the light again and hopefully you Italians will see the light very soon. A lot of sadness has to pass first and we will pray for you all, you are all in our thoughts and we wish and hope that you all keep safe. We know we are 2/3 weeks behind you and what we see on tv from Italy is scaring the life out of us. We all know it is coming now. I hope you all stay safe and escape this horrible virus.

    My husband and I are staying indoors now to try and rid ourselves of the winter cold to get ourselves 100% fit and healthy again and be prepared. We will try our very best to stay safe but somebody has to go out to get food every so often. It’s a funny feeling when you go out like there’s a monster who might get you!!

    On a much lighter note I would like to tell you about my marmalade award! I have just received a Silver award (won A Bronze last year) for my homemade marmalade from Dalmain Marmalade Awards, Cumbria, UK who have an annual Marmalade Award. Maybe you’ve heard of this global Competition. Why not send your marmalade to them next year? Details all on their webpage. Your marmalade looks amazing and I hope to try it out when I plan a trip to join your cooking course in the not too distant future.

    Good luck, stay safe and have some solace in knowing that our hearts are with you all.


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