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Light Meals, Sides & Soups / Dinner
Cavelo nero, Walnut & Lime Pesto with



Cavelo Nero, Walnut & Lime Pesto with Fettucine 


Cavelo nero, also known as Tuscan black kale, is native to its namesake Tuscany, and has been traditionally eaten with pasta in Northern Italy for many years.  

It really is such a beautiful tasting kale, with that classic dark green rich earthy flavour that always reminds me of winter and its comforts.  

Cavelo nero is a versatile vegetable, and one of my favourite ways to use it is to cook it with whatever seasonal offerings the garden has - it is lovely when combined with Roma tomatoes and homegrown cannellini beans to make a satisfying minestrone soup. I also like to steam it and mix it through cooked root vegetables and cheese sauce for a hearty winter pie filling.


Here I have combined cavelo nero with walnuts, lime juice and parmesan cheese to create a rustic, simple and wholesome winter pasta. Toasting the walnuts first really adds to the earthy undertone of the pesto sauce, and the lime juice gives an uplifting zing, something I find is welcomed during the cooler months. If you don’t have limes on hand, feel free to replace with lemon juice instead.


**Don’t forget to save the cavelo nero offcuts to use in your next soup stock.  I have a bag in the freezer dedicated to vegetable skins and offcuts for this exact reason. 


Serves 4 



  • 1 cup /100 g walnut pieces 

  • 400 grams cavelo nero, about 24 large leaves 

  • 300 grams dried fettucine 

  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, crushed 

  • ¼ cup lime or lemon juice 

  • 80 grams parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 packed cup once grated) 

  • 1 teaspoon flakey salt 

  • Few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper 

  • ½ cup olive oil 



  1. Place the walnut pieces into a small frying pan and carefully dry fry until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool. 

  2. Fill a large pot three quarters full with salted water and bring to the boil. Remove the central spine from the cavelo nero leaves using a sharp knife and blanch the leaves in the boiling water for three minutes. Using tongs remove the leaves from the pot and place into a colander, running cold water over them to stop the cooking process and retain the vibrant green colour.   

  3. In the same pot of water begin cooking the fettucine as per packet instructions while you prepare the pesto. 

  4. Place the drained cavelo nero, half the walnuts, garlic, lime juice, parmesan, salt and black pepper into a food processor and blend until finely chopped and well combined. You might need to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl as you go and repeat the blending to ensure all the ingredients get evenly blended. 

  5. Slowly pour the olive oil into the pesto with the motor running. Keep blending until the pesto comes together and forms a sauce. 

  6. Drain the fettucine into a colander saving a cup of the cooking water. 

  7. Heat a large pan and place the fettucine into it, with a splash of the cooking water and three quarters of the pesto. Heat through, adding more water if needed to loosen the sauce, but be careful not to overcook the pesto as the parmesan will go stringy. 

  8. Ensure all the fettucine is coated with the pesto and serve in bowls topped with the remaining walnut pieces, grated parmesan, a good glug of olive oil, and the extra pesto on the side. 


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