Kale and Chestnut Tartlets (Sformatini di Cavolo Nero e Castagne)

These tartlets are a new side dish that I invented because I wanted to prepare something with cavolo nero (black cabbage), the Tuscan cousin of kale. Since cavolo nero is a typical ingredient from Tuscany, I chose to combine it with chestnuts, another prodotto tipico from Tuscany. And so these tartlets were born, which would be called sformatini in Italian. The sweetness of the cavolo nero worked nice with the chestnuts, and I’m pretty sure it will still work well when you substitute with regular kale if you can’t get cavolo nero. This is a nice side dish for red meat dishes.

I used chestnuts that were already steamed and peeled, as that is how I can easily procure them. You can of course cook and peel the chestnuts yourself.


For 4 tartlets

600 grams (1.3 lbs) cavolo nero or kale

150 grams (1/3 lb) steamed and peeled chestnuts

1 clove garlic

50 grams (1.8 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

2 eggs

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp butter, divided + more for greasing the pan


Cut the tough and bitter ribs out of the cavolo nero and discard them. You should have about 240 grams (.5 lb) of cavolo left.

Cut the cavolo into ribbons.

Heat 2 Tbsp of the butter in a frying pan. Add the garlic clove and tilt the pan when the butter is hot to flavor the butter. Discard the garlic once it has become golden.

Add the kale, and stir fry over medium high heat for a minute or until it is covered with a bit of the flavored butter.

Season with salt.

Cover, lower the heat, and cook for 15-20 minutes over low heat, stirring now and then.

The cavolo should be tender but still firm to the bite.

Transfer the cavolo to the food processor and add 120 grams of the chestnuts. Reserve the remaining chestnuts for garnish.

Process until the chestnuts are coarsely chopped and mixed into the cavolo. Then add 2 eggs…

…and the parmigiano.

Process briefly until the eggs and parmigiano have been incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grease 4 holes in a muffin tin with butter and fill each hole with the cavolo mixture.

I made a bit too much and ended up with enough mixture for 5. (I did adjust the quantities in the recipe accordingly, so if you use a 120 ml (1/2 cup) muffin tin, you should end up with 4.)

Bake in the oven at 180ºC/350ºF for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

You can serve them straight away (they should fall out easily when you turn over the tin), or allow them to cool and reheat in the muffin tin for about 10 minutes to serve.

For the garnish, chop the reserved chestnuts and sauté them quickly in the remaining tablespoon of butter over high heat until crispy.

Allow to drain on a paper towel and season with salt.

Serve the tartlet with some crispy chesnut on top.


Certosino or Pan Speziale (“spicy bread”) is a traditional Christmas cake from Bologna with an ‘official’ recipe. Originally it was named after the pharmacists (called “speziali”) that made this in medieval times, but later it was made by the monks of Certosa and named after that.


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