Saturday 20 January 2018

King Cavolo - behold the George Clooney of cabbages

It's all about the DGLs. Susan Jane White looks at the latest dark-green leafy vegetable to top the superfood charts and improve your love life to boot

Cavolo nero - tall, svelte and suave.
Cavolo nero - tall, svelte and suave.
Susan Jane White

Cavolo nero is the George Clooney of cabbages - tall, svelte and suave. Its short and pudgy cousin goes into hibernation from July to October while the cavolo reigns.

Health divas have already dubbed this dark-green leafy (DGL) as Tuscan kale, with its Italian sophistication and unlikely elegance. The cavolo may have already slammed curly kale off its number-one spot (hurrah!). One look at model Ella Woodward's Instagram account shows how frequently this DGL likes to be papped. Amusing and perplexing, with equal measure.

So why the excitement? Cavolo nero is an excellent source of folate, which is often associated with great nookie. It looks like folate can regulate the production of histamine - a very important chemical, which is released during orgasm. No, a cabbage smoothie will not bring you to climax, but you're welcome to try.

You probably don't need another reason to watch your folate intake, but here's another fireworks display you'll be interested in. Folate plays a large role in our mental and emotional health. It is, in fact, a B vitamin - think B for Brain and Battery. Or Bergman and Bogart (okay, that's probably E for Electricity, but you get the picture).

Cavolo's bumpy dinosaur skin hides some other champion vitamins like K, C and A. Lutein, a nifty carotenoid, can help strengthen our vision and beef up ocular health. That's doctor speak for 
20-20 vision. Not worried about your eyes? I bet your granny is. Ageing is cruel. Just when you need your sight the most, it starts to dull. Maybe that's Mother N's way of restricting the pain of seeing your magnificent mane growing grey, or your chin growing hairs.

Cavolo nero won't save your sight, but it can help. Think of DGLs as ammo against ageing. Kale, cabbage, cavolo: the entire cast is at your disposal.

Roasted Chickpeas with caramelised banana and Cavolo Nero

Serves 2

Curry-flavoured chickpeas make a groovy side dish, and will have your nostrils doing the Mexican wave. Add cooked prawns or crumbled feta just before serving, if you want to stretch this recipe to a main course. This dish particularly thrives in lazy kitchens and time-pressured zones.

You will need:

1 x 400g (14oz) tin chickpeas, drained

1 ripe banana, sliced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of turmeric (optional)

1 bunch cavolo nero

Fire up your oven to 200°C, 400°F, 
Gas 6. Let it get really hot while you 
prep the supper.

Toss the drained chickpeas and the sliced banana on to your largest roasting tray and coat them with your favourite curry powder, some coriander seeds and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Curry powders can vary wildly, so, if you're using it, add a pinch of luminous turmeric powder if you fancy a healthy neon glow. I do.

Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the banana slices look caramelised and the chickpeas are turning crispy. But watch out! If your roasting tray is small, everything will sweat and turn soggy instead of caramelising, so it might be worth spreading the contents over two trays.

While the chickpeas are raving in the oven, tear the green parts of the cavolo nero leaf off each tough stalk. Gently rip the torn leaves into bite-sized pieces, and tumble them into the hot chickpeas, along with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Return to the oven for 3 minutes.

That's it. Any leftovers make an awesome dining-al-desko lunch 
at the office the following day. A few sun-dried tomatoes or olives will give it a whole new identity. There's no need to submit to dodgy petrol-station sangers!

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