Pasta with Kale “in Saor” (Pasta con Cavolo Riccio “in Saor”)

Kale is called cavolo riccio (curly cabbage) in Italy, but it is not widely used. The closest type of cabbage that is common in Italy is the Tuscan cavolo nero.In the Netherlands kale is very common and called boerenkool (farmer’s cabbage). The flavor of kale improves from a bit of frost, as the cold triggers the kale to transform some of its starches into sugar to prevent it from freezing. The standard Dutch way to prepare it is with mashed potatoes and smoked pork sausage. The recipe below for pasta with kale is my own invention. In my imagination this is what an Italian from Veneto might do with kale, as the pasta is flavored with raisins, pine nuts, cinnamon, bay leaf, and white wine vinegar, as in the Venetian recipe for fish “in Saor“. This recipe is also a bit like the Piemontese recipe for savoy cabbage with anchovies and vinegar (sancrau). I really liked the result and will certainly prepare this again. In fact, I have already prepared it twice as the first time I did not take photographs.


For 2 servings

450 grams (1 lb) kale

200 grams (.44 lb) short pasta, I used wholewheat penne rigate

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp raisins

1 Tbsp pine nuts

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 bay leaf

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano


Cut out the tough central ribs of the kale and discard them. Chop the kale.

Lightly toast a tablespoon of pine nuts. I like to do this in the oven for about 8 minutes at 180C/350F, because this is easier to toast them uniformly than it is in a frying pan.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add a chopped onion and a bay leaf. Season with salt, and stir over medium heat until the onion is soft and starting to color, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped kale and season with salt.

Add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar…

…and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir to mix everything.

Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly, until the kale is tender but firm to the bite, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add salt and the pasta.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is al dente, scoop out about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of pasta cooking water.

Put a tablespoon of raisins in a bowl and add the pasta cooking water. Allow the raisins to soak while you finish cooking the pasta and kale.

When the pasta is almost al dente, add the pine nuts to the kale.

Drain the pasta when it is al dente, and add to the kale.

Add the raisins together with the soaking water.

Add a generous amount of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

Toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve at once on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more parmigiano.



This recipe for fresh fig ice cream is very nice because it uses lemon zest and lemon juice to enhance the flavor, and it is quite easy as nog eggs are involved.


8 thoughts on “Pasta with Kale “in Saor” (Pasta con Cavolo Riccio “in Saor”)

  1. *smile* Well, kale sure is ‘it’ here and this is one version I am certain to try! Love the raisins, nuts and cinnamon . . . . not a vegetable I instinctively reach for, but you may just change my mind !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stefan! As a “veneta d.o.c.” I would skip the cinnamon, but would definitely love to try this recipe! AND, will try Kale to make “ribollita”, now that you thought me that kale is the perfect substitute for “cavolo nero”… Have a happy new year and thank you for your always awesome posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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