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Cavolo nero salad with walnuts, orange and honey

Before tuning into the festive season, I want to enjoy December, its dark cold mornings, the oak trees turning burnt orange in the woods, the crackling of fire at night, bitter leaves and baked apples with warming spices.

When I roast a chicken or quickly grill pork chops, I love to make this winter salad. I remove the fibrous stalks of the cavolo nero leaves and cut it into thin strips. It multiplies into a soft mass of feathery dark green ribbons.

Cavolo nero salad

It is mandatory to dress it in advance and massage thoroughly the cavolo nero, as to make it more tender and digestible. Make a vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of aceto balsamico, pour it over the salad and toss it until perfectly seasoned. Finish with a handful of finely chopped walnuts. Just before serving, drizzle with honey.

Cavolo nero salad with walnuts and orange

The orange and the chestnut honey, which is not overly sweet, tame the bitterness of cavolo nero, while the walnuts provide a nice crunch and a nutty flavour. Even my mum, who is usually quite sceptic about new recipes, is now making this salad on repeat.

Cavolo nero salad with walnuts and orange

A wintry cavolo nero salad with walnuts, orange wedges and chestnut honey. Serve it with a roasted chicken or quickly grilled pork chops.
4.75 from 4 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Tuscan
Servings 4 people


  • 1 bunch of cavolo nero
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Aceto Balsamico
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 orange
  • A handful of walnuts
  • Chestnut honey
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  • Remove the fibrous stalks of cavolo nero by stripping the leaves off, and gather the leaves in a salad spinner. Rinse the cavolo nero and dry it thoroughly.
  • Collect a few leaves of cavolo nero, arrange them in a stack, then roll them into a burrito.
  • Cut the cavolo nero into thin strips.
  • Collect the shredded cavolo nero in a bowl, then dress it with extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few drops of Aceto balsamico. Toss the salad and massage the cavolo nero with your hands to soften the fibres.
  • Let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the orange: peel it and slice it, then cut it in wedges.
  • Toast the walnuts for a couple of minutes in a hot pan.
  • When you’re ready to serve the salad, crush the walnuts with your hands and add them to the cavolo nero along with the orange wedges. Finish with a drizzle of honey and serve it.
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Cavolo nero salad

Serve this salad with…

Think about a wintry Sunday lunch, in a warm and cozy kitchen with the rain pouring outside. Roast a chicken, serve the cavolo nero salad as a side dish, and close the meal with a seasonal lemon pudding, made following a century old recipe.

Roasted chicken. The ingredient list is short and essential, this is how I would imagine a woman living in the Tuscan countryside would have loved her farm-yard chicken to be roasted on a foggy Sunday morning. No butter smeared on the chicken, no fussy stuffing, just a good chicken, some salt and pepper, olive oil and vinsanto. She could find everything in her pantry or in her yard.

Lemon pudding. Artusi calls it lemon pudding, budino di limone, but it is more like a moist cake with an intense lemon scent. This lemon pudding reminds me of the Sephardic orange and almond cake, made famous by Claudia Roden in the 1960s in her A Book of Middle Eastern Food. With Claudia Roden’s cake, you would use two oranges instead of one lemon, but the procedure is identical, as is the ingredient ratio.

Our on line cooking classes. A gift for Christmas?

We are missing the people we used to meet during our market tours and cooking classes.We had to figure out a new way to share our passion for food, to virtually meet all the food enthusiasts who gave us so much through the years. This is why we launched a virtual Tuscan cooking class on Udemy, an on line learning platform. We have now two options.

Tuscan Cooking Class

Traditional recipes, pantry staples and ideas to add to your cooking repertoire.

Learn to cook:

Chicken liver crostini, Fried sage leaves, Tagliatelle, Ricotta and spinach tortelli, Potato gnocchi, Tuna and tomato sauce, Roasted pork loin, Stuffed roasted turkey breast, Roasted lamb, Tuna stuffed round zucchini, Tuna loaf, Fresh peas with garlic and pancetta, Almond biscotti, Olive oil cake, Shortcrust pastry dough, Jam crostata, Shortcrust sandwich jam cookies, Shortcrust Tartlets, Robinia flower fritters.


  • 19 step-by-step cooking demonstrations
  • a PDF with ingredients, tools and instructions of each recipe
  • free access to upcoming new recipes
  • lifetime access

Cost: €34,99 €27,99 – Join us with a discounted price. Use the code DECEMBER20 and subscribe here.

[New!] Vegan Cooking Class

A course with traditional, authentic recipes belonging to the Tuscan cooking tradition that are, at the same time, naturally vegan. Includes also gluten-free options.

Learn to cook:

Chickpea flour cake, Hand pulled fresh pasta pici with rye flour, Panzanella (tomato bread salad), Pappa al pomodoro (tomato bread soup), Ribollita (bean, Tuscan kale and bread soup), Grilled vegetables, Stewed green beans, Castagnaccio (chestnut flour cake).
Coming soon: Gluten free potato gnocchi, Sugo finto (herb and tomato sauce), Aglione sauce (garlic tomato sauce)


  • 19 step-by-step cooking demonstrations
  • a PDF with ingredients, tools and instructions of each recipe
  • free access to upcoming new recipes
  • lifetime access

Cost: €29,99 €23,99 – Join us with a discounted price. Use the code DECEMBER20 and subscribe here.

Cavolo nero salad

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love cavolo nero and have it growing in my garden. Last night I had braised cavolo nero. Tonight I’m going to make this salad. Thank you Giulia!

    1. Hi Susie, I love braised cavolo nero just as well! So happy you will give this salad a go!

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