This is a robust salad, full of big flavours and substantial enough to work as a light main course. I rather like the punning Roman name; the fact that it’s made with cavolo nero makes it all the more pleasing. I know this rugged winter brassica isn’t on everyone’s list of favourite vegetables, but for me it has a winning mixture of texture and flavour. When young and fresh, the dark leaves are tender enough to be eaten raw (once stripped from the hard stems), their nutty sweetness a foil for thick, punchy dressings like the one here, which will cling to their waffled surface. Red russian kale, with its spiky purple-veined leaves, responds well to the same treatment.
4 thick slices sourdough or other rustic bread, preferably a day or two old
200g light olive oil, plus extra for splashing
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g young, perky cavolo nero
12 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, roughly chopped
1 decent clove of garlic, crushed
2 medium egg yolks
2 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
1 small lemon, zested and juiced
A pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed chilli flakes
30g grated parmesan, plus extra shavings for scattering
Heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Tear the bread into pieces roughly 3cm square. Put on a baking sheet and splash with olive oil. Season well — particularly with salt — and toss until coated on all sides. Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.
Strip the kale leaves from their central ribs. They should just tear off along the seam. Rip the leaves into bite-size pieces. Discard the stems.
Put half the anchovy fillets on a board with the garlic and crush to a pulp. Put this in a small mixing bowl with the egg yolk and mustard, adding a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk together until well combined, then begin whisking in the oil, drop by drop at first, until the sauce thickens into a mayonnaise. When half the oil has been added, mix in 2 tbsp of the lemon juice, then continue whisking in the remaining oil in a thin, steady stream. Beat in the cayenne, lemon zest and grated parmesan, along with a splash of water to thin the dressing if needed. You want it thick enough to coat the kale leaves, but not so thick that it is cloying. As a guide, think double cream. Stir in the chopped anchovies, then taste the sauce and add a touch more lemon juice if needed.
Toss the leaves and croutons with the dressing and scatter the top with extra parmesan shavings. Heap onto plates, trickle a little extra oil over the top and serve.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book is Good Things to Eat.