This Cavolo Nero Pasta is full of delicious green veggies, has loads of garlic, a hit of chilli and some cheesy vegan goodness for added flavour. It's super simple to make and is probably one of the easiest pasta dishes you can find, apart from maybe just garlic & oil. It makes use of seasonal Cavolo Nero Kale and really gives it a starring role.
The best thing is you can make this Garlicky Cavolo Nero Pasta in the time it takes to boil the spaghetti or other pasta of your choice. Perfect for when you need a quick, easy pasta dish.
Just like some of my other favourite pasta recipes such as Vegan Creamy Cannellini Bean & Tomato Pasta and this Creamy Vegetable Pasta , the lovely thing about this garlicky vegan cavolo nero pasta, is you can mix it up and customize it very easily to your own tastes. Add a squeeze of lemon. Or more chilli flakes. You could even add your favourite plant-based sausage or vegan bacon. The important thing is to make it quickly. So you can have your quick pasta dish for when you're hungry and need some comfort food.
Top this simple dish with some Pangritata Crispy Breadcrumbs for Pasta in place of parmesan cheese, and maybe serve up a simple salad like this Harissa Roasted Chickpea & Tomato Salad on the side for a complete meal.
🌿What Is Cavolo Nero?
Cavolo Nero is a type of kale. Sometimes called Tuscan Kale, Black Kale or Dinosaur Kale. It's really popular in Italy and has beautiful dark glossy green leaves that have a lovely bumpy texture (hence the dinosaur name!)
Cavolo Nero is definitely my favourite kale. Not only does it look pretty growing in the garden (I pop it in as a leaf in my flower beds!) it has a softer texture which I really like. The leaves aren't quite as 'kaley' as the rougher curly kale, and are a little sweeter, so I find it delicious to wilt into soups or chop up into a quick pasta.
For this simple vegan pasta all you need is the following key ingredients:
- Cavolo Nero -or any other favourite kale or cabbage.
- Spaghetti, linguine or other long pasta of choice. Of course you can use gluten free or high protein chickpea pasta too.
- Garlic. Lots of fresh chopped garlic! Use as much as your heart desires.
- Chilli flakes or fresh chilli- use this to your own personal taste.
- Pine Nuts , optional- you could use other nuts such as slivered almonds.
- Nutritional Yeast -for a lovely cheesy taste and to help bring the whole dish together. This replaces parmesan cheese and makes this dish vegan.
- Good quality olive oil- for both sizzling the garlic in, and as an extra drizzle.
- Optional- pangritata to sprinkle on top. Check out my simple recipe here:Vegan Parmesan: Cheezy, Spicy, Herby Crunchies for Pasta (Pangritata)l
👩🍳How to Make Cavolo Nero Pasta
For the full instructions head to the recipe card.
- First, put your water on to boil.
1. Strip or chop the cavolo nero into longish piecesChop the garlic into little slices.
2. Boil the water for the pasta and add the pasta when boiling.
3.Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until slightly golden. Put aside.
4. Add olive oil to a frying pan, then add the garlic and chilli if using and sizzle. Add the cavolo nero kale.
Once the pasta is cooked, reserve some of the pasta water and drain it, then Toss the pasta in the pan with the garlic and kale.
Mix the reserved pasta water with the nutritional yeast. Then toss it in with the pasta. The slight starchyness of the pasta water in combination with the nutritional yeast will form a light cheezy sauce.
Mix together, then add the pine nuts if using. Season and serve with more nutritional yeast or some pangritata.
🥫Storage and Leftovers
Ideally, eat this pasta dish as soon as it's made, however, if you have leftovers you can put it in an airtight container and then into the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. If you want to 'glow up' your leftovers, you should definitely try making this Vegan Pasta Frittata.
🌿Substitutions and Variations
I make variations of this simple pasta dish all the time. Why not try some of my favourites. Or let me know in the comments below (or on my socials) what you've used.
- Gluten Free/Grain Free Pasta- make this recipe gluten free by choosing a rice or quinoa pasta.
- High Protein Pasta: Choose chickpea, quinoa or other non-grain pasta to give this an extra boost of nutrients.
- Lemon Zest: A little lemon zest really adds a lovely tang to this recipe.
- Oat or Soya Cream: Add a splash of cream for a creamier, lush pasta variation.
- Extra Cheesy: Add some of your favourite vegan grated cheese while you're tossing the veggies in with the pasta.
❓FAQ & Trouble Shooting
I like to use a long pasta such as spaghetti or linguine. But use whatever is your favourite! You can choose to use gluten free
You can use your favourite green leafy veggie instead. Cut up savoy cabbage, use spinach, whatever you have to hand.
This is a vegan pasta dish, so it keeps the dish vegan but makes a yummy cheesey flavour to replace parmesan cheese. You can buy nutritional yeast online or at the supermarket. (link: Nutritional Yeast)
The starchyness of the pasta water combines with the nutritional yeast and once it is poured into the pasta with olive oil and garlic it becomes a kind of sauce.
🍝Serving Ideas and Similar Recipes
I'm pretty sure you're going to love this quick Garlicky Cavolo Nero Pasta, and we suggest serving it with a wholesome salad for extra deliciousness. And if you're keen for more pasta, why not try some of our other pasta dishes.
- Vegan Caesar Salad with Crunchy Chickpea Croutons (Gluten Free!)
- Harissa Roasted Chickpea & Tomato Salad
- How To Make Vegan Rasta Pasta
- Vegan Red Pepper and Chorizo Mafalda Pasta
- Leftover Pasta Frittata
Quick Garlicky Cavolo Nero Pasta
- 1 Large frying pan
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- 180 g (8 ¾ oz) pasta (Spaghetti or linguine work well.)
- 6 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic.)
- 200 g (½ lb) cavolo nero (or other green such as spinach or cabbage.)
- 50 g (⅓ cups) pine nuts
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Put the pasta water on to boil.
- Finely slice the garlic and remove the cavolo nero from it's stalks. Shred the cavolo nero.6 cloves garlic, 200 g cavolo nero
- In the frying pan, toast the pine nuts until slightly golden. Remove and set aside.50 g pine nuts
- Add the pasta to the pasta water.180 g pasta
- Sizzle the garlic and chilli if using in the olive oil. Add in the cavolo nero and turn in the pan.6 cloves garlic, 200 g cavolo nero, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Once the pasta is cooked al dente, reserve a ⅓ cup (50ml) of the cooking water, then drain
- Mix the pasta in with the cavolo nero, tossing so the oil coats the pasta well.
- Mix the nutritional yeast in with the reserved pasta water, then pour it over the pasta, mixing well. This will turn into a light cheesy coating for the pasta.2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Mix the pine nuts into the pasta, then add salt & pepper to taste.
- Serve in bowls with extra nutritional yeast or pangritata (toasted breadcrumbs) to sprinkle over the top
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
I make this pasta all the time when Cavolo Nero is in season. It's one of my all time favourite-easy dinners.
We loved how simple and quick this was for a weekday dinner! And a brilliant use of cavolo nero growing in our garden!
Louise-Claire Cayzer says
We love a quick dinner. Even more if we've picked it ourselves!
Oh yum, I love cavolo nero and often get it in my veg box, will definitely try this next time!
Dana Sandonato says
The addition of the pine nuts is *chef's kiss* absolute perfection!
I'm very interested in trying this. I love kale, but I have never had cavolo nero. This sounds super delicious.
Carrie Robinson says
I don't think that I have ever had cavolo nero before! 🙂 Totally want to look for this the next time I am at the grocery store and try this recipe.