Monday, December 15, 2014

South-Indian Savoy Cabbage and Tuscan Kale Saute' with Cherries

After preparing my Tuscan soup, I had some left over cabbages, and so using them for a South Indian saute' was a no-brainer. The basic ingredients and techniques are the same as many South Indian dishes, including the Poriyal I had published a few weeks ago, with the usual players that I always have in my pantry: urad dahl, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetidia, turmeric, curry leaves, and green chilies.

The added sweetness from the cherries in this dish contrast nicely with the bitterness of the cabbage. The asafoetidia, curry leaves and cumin seeds confer that extra layer of flavor that is distinctive of South Indian cooking.

Because I am Italian, I cannot get away from using olive oil, so while most Indian dishes use some other vegetable oils, I always go back to my roots, and use some good EVOO, which is healthier than many vegetable oils. But one use the cooking oil that one feels more comfortable with.

This dish is so addictive that bite after bite,  before you know it you will be staring at an empty bowl. But the good news is that you don't have to feel guilty about it, because cabbages are low-calorie nutrition powerhouses. 


  • 1/2 savoy cabbage, rinsed and shredded
  • about 4 stalks of black Italian cabbage (also referred to as Tuscan kale), stems removed, and leaves chopped horizontally
  • shallots, about 5, sliced relatively thinly
  • green chilies – ½ or 1, for those who desire more heat
  • curry leaves – about 6
  • olive oil – enough to coat the bottom of a pan
  • black mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • urad dhal – 1 teaspoon
  • cumin seeds- 1 teaspoon
  • asafoetedia- a healthy pinch
  • turmeric powder- a small pinch
  • dried cherries-a handful
  • salt (and optional black pepper) to taste

for pictured instructions on how to slice/shred the cabbages, visit my previous post


1. Cover the bottom of a pan with the oil, then heat the oil on low. Add the mustard seeds and urad dahl.
2. Continue to fry on low heat till the mustard seeds make a popping sound and the urad dahl turns golden, making sure it does not brown.
3. Add the cumin seeds.
4. Add the green chilies, curry leaves, asafoetida (and turmeric). Fry for 10 to 12 seconds.
5. Add the shallots, and sauté until translucent.
6. Add the shredded savoy and Tuscan cabbages and saute’ on medium heat while stirring occasionally, several minutes.
7. Turn up the heat, and  add about ¼ cup of water, allow some to evaporate, stir again and then cook, covered, until soft, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon (but don’t allow the sautee’ to burn).
8.Taste for doneness, and if necessary, add more water and repeat step 7 above.
10..Before the cabbage is fully done, add the dried cherries and cook uncovered for a few more minutes.
11. Drizzle with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil
12. Add salt and pepper to taste.

13. Serve with rice or couscous, or enjoy as is.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Creative holiday cocktail party fare

If you are stuck on creative holiday party recipe ideas, you may be inspired by my delicious write-up for  Now It's Dark Magazine, in which I propose two creative delectable recipes.

Avocado Mousse Deviled Eggs with Tomato Confit

Mini Blini Salmon and Caviar Napoleons

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ribollita- Tuscan Bean and Cabbage Soup

Being from Tuscany, "ribollita", which literally means "boiled again", was a frequent and welcome protagonist at our table. A satisfying, wholesome, flavorful and nutritious soup, completed with a drizzle of estate cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, was without a doubt one of my favorite dishes growing up. In its simplicity lied its strength, and consequently its increasing popularity over the years, which is also in part attributable to many celebrity chefs and bloggers offering up variations of this Tuscan classic. My version, which is the one I grew up with, is most simple, where the stars are the beans and the cabbage. I have seen variations with carrots, zucchini or potatoes, which, in my opinion, transform this basic soup into almost a minestrone.  

Although some recipes call for addition of chicken stock, I strongly advise against it, as it completely alters the intended flavor. We are not making chicken soup here, we are making a soup of beans and cabbage, so chicken stock really does not belong. Rather, the flavor is enhanced the classic "battuto di odori", a combination of chopped onions, carrots, celery and fresh parsley, sauteed to perfection, and which serve as the base for many Italian recipes.

From a true Tuscan with love....

savoy and black cabbage


1 carrot
1 onion
1/2 celery stalk
a few sprigs of parsley
1 15-oz can of diced or pureed tomatoes (or the equivalent in freshly chopped or pureed tomatoes)
1 15-oz can of cannellini beans (or the equivalent in cooked dry or fresh cannellini beans)
1/2 savoy cabbage, rinsed and thinly sliced
about 4 stalks of black Italian cabbage (also referred to as Tuscan kale), stems removed, and leaves chopped horizontally
about 2 cups of vegetable stock or water
extra virgin olive oil- enough to coat the bottom of a medium size pan, plus about 1 tablespoon to drizzle the soup at the end
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
several slices of oven-dried or a few days old rustic bread or baguette

showing the black cabbage with the stems removed

showing the chopped cabbages

Finely chop the carrot, onion, celery and parsley  on a cutting board, or pulse  in a food processor until fine. This is what we refer to in Italian as “battuto di odori”.

In a medium size cooking pot, heat the olive oil, add the chopped “odori” and cook until softened (about 10 minutes), being careful not to burn them. Add the beans along with the liquid, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the savoy and black cabbage, the stock, the tomatoes(or puree) and cook, semi covered, for about 1 hour, until reduced and everything is soft. With a ladle, remove about 1 cup of the soup (beans, cabbage and all), blend it in a blender until smooth, then pour back in the pot and cook down some more (about 10-20 minutes). Blending a portion of the soup confers a more velvety texture.

Add salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste.

Allow to cool and rest, preferably overnight. Before serving, bring to a boil (hence the name ribollita), and serve in a bowl over toasted bread. Drizzle with some good quality extra virgin olive oil.