October 18th, 2009


Sauteed Cavolo Nero and Caramelized Chervil Root with Ewes Milk Cheese Shavings

Warm winter and autumn salads are a terrific substitute for the lighter leafier ones that we loved so much during the summer. I can eat salad all year long and it makes the perfect accompaniment to grilled or roasted meat, fish and poultry.

I received these chervil roots along with some gorgeous looking cep mushrooms from Erin at Wild Harvest. I was intrigued as I have never came across chervil roots before. As I love food and have a passion to discover ingredients that I have never seen  before, I immediately set to work on cooking some of these rather unusual roots . They almost look like a white carrot or more precise a dwarf parsnip but have the distinct aniseed chervil taste. They are very pleasant indeed and as I discovered once boiled in salted water they almost have the texture of boiled parsnips. I finished them off in a hot frying pan with unsalted butter to give them a golden and slightly crispy outside crust with a creamy interior.

I know that chervil roots are not easy to come by, so I suggest if you like the sound of this recipe substitute the chervil roots with either parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, white carrots or celeriac. All these substitutes will retain the earthy character of the dish.

I tried to grow cavolo nero this summer but the slugs and all the other creepy crawlies loved it so much there was hardly anything left, so I had to settle for a couple of heads from my vegetable suppliers. I was very pleased indeed to have received them as I mainly buy curly kale and or spring greens this time of the year. I removed the tougher outside leaves and kept these for a lovely borlotti bean soup that I made later on in the week. I discarded the stalks and I was left with the tender and lovely young small leaves. These young small leaves benefit from being cooked quickly in a dash of olive oil and a tiny amount of unsalted butter. I am a firm believer to add a knob of butter when cooking cabbages of all varieties as the nutty flavour makes a perfect partnership with the cabbage. Do not forget the seasoning, as cabbages can take a good helping of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, it brings out the earthy irony rich taste.

I finished my warm autumn dish with slices of sauteed butternut squash and a few shavings of ewes milk cheese.


  • 200g cavolo nero, remove stalks and the tough outside leaves, choose the tender young leaves, wash and drain
  • 6 chervil roots or 8 large Jerusalem artichokes or 6 white carrots or 3 parsnips
  • 400g peeled and sliced butternut squash
  • 50g ewes milk cheese, shaved
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Peel your chosen root vegetables ( I have chosen to use chervil roots). Cut them in 1/4 wedges length ways. You can do the same with either Jerusalem artichokes, white carrots or parsnips. Place the prepared root vegetables in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and add salt to the water, bring to the boil and cook until tender but when you insert a sharp knife  they must still hold their shape.

Drain the cooked but still firm root vegetables and cool under cold running water, drain.

Prepare the butternut squash, peel and remove the seeds. Slice the squash in 3 -4 mm thick slices.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with a dash of the oil and a 1/3rd of the butter, once it starts to foam add the sliced squash with seasoning and fry them until golden on both sides and tender, drain.

In the same frying pan add more oil and butter and saute the cooled drained root vegetables with seasoning until golden all over, drain.

In the same frying pan and the rest of the oil and butter saute the cavolo nero until tender, season.

Mix the cavolo nero, squash and chervil roots with a drizzle of the balsamic and grain mustard vinaigrette.

Arrange all the components on the chosen serving dish, add a few more drizzles of the balsamic and grain mustard vinaigrette and garnish with the shaved ewes milk cheese.

Balsamic and Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1tsp grain mustard
  • 3tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small glass jar, secure the lid and shake vigorously to form an emulsion. Set aside until needed.

The vinaigrette will last for up to one week in the fridge in the glass jar.

Serves 4/6

Food Fanatics Tips

I have chosen to use only the very tender and young small cavolo nero leaves, do not throw the tougher outside leaves away. They will be prefect shredded and boiled in salted boiling water until tender, mix it through creamy mashed potatoes or risotto.

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5 Comments to “Sauteed Cavolo Nero and Caramelized Chervil Root with Ewes Milk Cheese Shavings”

  1. Edmund Inkin says:

    What a good find this blog is.

    You may be interested to know that we have managed to grow Chervil Root for the first time this winter/spring in the Kitchen Garden at our restaurant, The Felin Fach Griffin, in the Brecon Beacons.

    It’s the third year we’ve tried, and our first real success as it has been difficult to control the germination and growing conditions in previous years. We think we’re about the only growers in the UK (stand ready to be corrected) which is very exciting.

    We used to buy it from Wild Harvest as well. They sourced it from France but it’s really good to be able to bring it just the 50 paces or so from the garden.

  2. Hello Madalene,

    I just discovered your blog through London Food and Drink. My name is Bethany and I write the blog https://www.dirtykitchensecrets.com here in London as well. A few other bloggers and I are organizing a conference on Food Blogging on the 28th of November, 2009 in London.

    We would love it if you could join us. Depending on the number of food bloggers who RSVP, we hope to also have guest speakers talking about relevant issues to Food Blogging such as “How To Improve On Food Photography” or “What Makes A Good Food Blog” amongst others. In any case, it will be an opportunity to meet other food bloggers, some of which are coming from France, Germany and even India, and network, eat delicious food and have a good laugh.

    For more information please visit https://www.dirtykitchensecrets.com/

    We hope to see you there.

    Bethany and the other organisers; Mowie Kay- Mowielicious, Jamie Schler- Life’s a Feast and Hilda Saffari- Saffron & Blueberry

  3. Adding butter or bacon fat to cabbage dishes is a great idea for more than flavour reasons as it allows the vitamins and minerals in the cabbage to be absorbed more easily. Butter from grass-fed cows is full of omega-3′s in the summer and autumn and this helps to balance the over-consumption of vegetable oils (and hence omega-6′s) in western societies. An overload of omega-6′s is detrimental to our health, so choosing to serve butter or other saturated animal fats with your cabbage is excellent.

  4. johanna says:

    i grow the cavalo nero [aka: Lancinato ] rather than
    ordinary kale every year. its flavor is so much better,
    my favorite winter dish is washed chopped leaf, wilted
    til tender in [covered] hot pan in tsp or 2. bacon fat, and
    a little water. finish with dash of vinegar and a good pinch
    of sugar. cook to let flavors blend-just a minute or 2
    topped with the crumbled bacon and a chopped
    boiled egg… a childhood “comfort dish” from nanny.

    and by the way, dusting regularly with wood ashes [not coal]
    will keep kale fairly bug free. also planting late in the
    season, as it withstands cold weather quite well, even snow.
    i grow it all winter, here. it is very hardy and the
    pests arent!

    vty, johanna

  5. Lizzie says:

    I love cavalo nero, it has such a wonderfully mineral flavour. I just wish it was more available to buy, I’ve only ever found it in boutique vegetable shops or farmers markets.

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