4.53 from 19 votes

Cavolo Nero with Garlic & Lemon

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This crispy cavolo nero recipe is the perfect side. Served with garlic and lemon and baked in under 10 minutes.
Prep time: 1 min
Cook Time: 6 mins
Total Time: 7 mins
Makes: 4
cabbage, cavolo nero

Table of Contents

  1. Why this recipe works
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to cook cavolo nero
  4. FAQ

Why this recipe works

This cavolo nero recipe is the perfect side. The tangy and spicy dressing takes the greens to the next level, with garlicky undertones for the best flavour. 

This recipe requires minimal effort. You can prep the cavolo nero in under 1 minute and then pop it in the oven for just 6 minutes. Pair it with a protein or carb for a delicious and balanced meal. 

The combination of chilli, garlic, lemon and oil is inspired by one of my favourite pastas ‘spaghetti aglio e olio,’ which uses these ingredients along with parsley to form a pasta sauce. These ingredients work equivalently well to flavour this cavolo nero recipe. 

dressing being whisked in a bowl


Cavolo nero 

The foundation of this recipe/the perfect side dish. 

Lemon juice

For the tangy hit that brings the baked cavolo nero to life. 

Chilli flakes/red pepper flakes

For heat. The balance and flavour of the lemon juice, garlic and oil is taken further when there’s a little kick of heat. If you prefer a mild heat, switch the chilli flakes for red pepper flakes. 


I used 3 cloves to give this cavolo nero recipe a strong garlic flavour (not too strong though), but feel free to use 1 or 2 cloves if you want a more subtle garlic hit (or if your garlic cloves are big). 

Extra virgin olive oil 

I love extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe as the oil is a big element of the flavour, which is why I haven’t used a neutral oil like rapeseed oil. 

Flakey salt 

For a salty crunch to finish the recipe with. 

Overhead shot of cavolo nero with garlic and lemon

How to cook cavolo nero

Start by removing the cavolo nero from the toughest part of the stem.

Removing cavolo nero leaf from stemTear into medium-sized rectangles or bite size pieces.

Cavolo nero torn in pieces

Then in a large bowl, add the lemon juice, chilli flakes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Mix together with a hand whisk.

Olive oil, chilli, lemon and garlic in mixing bowlThrow the torn cavolo nero into the bowl and mix together, ensuring all the cavolo nero is coated with the dressing.

Cavolo nero in mixing bowl with dressing

Then spread out the pieces of cavolo nero onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Pop in the oven for 6-8 minutes (keep a close eye, as depending on your oven temperature the Cavolo Nero will cook quickly and you don’t want it to burn)!

Cavolo nero spread out over parchment paper on baking tray

Serve with some flakey salt and enjoy!

Baked cavolo nero


What is cavolo nero?

Cavolo nero is a form of kale that is darker in colour and with longer leaves that are straighter/less curly than normal kale. I find it to be richer in flavour and it also has a different texture when you eat it. 

Can I make this recipe ahead of time/ can I meal prep it?

You can definitely make this for meal prep/make it ahead of time, however when storing and reheating you’ll lose a bit of the crispiness that you get when served immediately. The flavour is still great though! To minimise the crispy issue, you could make the dressing ahead of time and prep the cavolo nero by washing and tearing. Then whenever you want to eat it, just combine a portion with the dressing and bake. 

Is cavolo nero healthy?

It’s great for you! It’s a good source of lutein, vitamin K, A and C and a significant source of the B vitamins. 

Can I freeze it?

I wouldn’t freeze the cooked/finished product of this recipe but as mentioned above, you could wash and tear the cavolo nero ahead of time, freeze it and then defrost and pat dry when you’re ready to cook. 

Can I use normal kale for this recipe instead?

Yes definitely! Just remove any tough stems attached to the kale and follow exactly the same method. 

side shot of the crispy cavolo nero

Other cavolo nero recipes…

Salmon Rice bowl 

Creamy halloumi curry

Creamy Green Risotto with Crispy Mushrooms and Bacon 

Other side recipes… 

Parmesan Tenderstem Broccoli with Garlic Butter

Crispy Baked Cauliflower Bites with Chilli Mayo

5 Ingredient Vegan Mayonnaise


Cavolo Nero with Garlic & Lemon

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4.53 from 19 votes
Prep Time: 1 min
Cook Time: 6 mins
Total Time: 7 mins
cabbage, cavolo nero
Servings: 4
This crispy cavolo nero recipe is the perfect side. Served with garlic and lemon and baked in under 10 minutes.


  • 150 g (1 bag) cavolo nero, stems removed & torn (£1.00)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (£0.69/3)=(£0.23)
  • ½ lemon, juiced (£0.20)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes/red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Flakey salt


  • Start by removing the cavolo nero from the stem. I do this by creating a little tear on each side of the toughest part of the stem and then running my hand along the stem which removes the cavolo nero perfectly. Then tear into medium-sized rectangles (bite-sized pieces).
  • In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, chilli flakes & minced garlic with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Pour the torn cavolo nero into the bowl and toss to ensure every piece is coated.
  • Add the cavolo nero to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the pieces so they’re evenly scattered across the sheet. Pop in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
  • Serve with flakey salt & enjoy!


Servings: 4 servings
Fat: 6g
Calories: 61kcal
Carbohydrates: 2g
Protein: 1g

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