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Cavolo Verza!

By November 5, 2008

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Cavolo VerzaThat's Savoy Cabbage, and its beautiful bubbly green heads are beginning to appear in Italian markets. It's one of the most classic Italian winter vegetables, especially in the north, though you will also encounter it in the South. Some new ideas, to join those already on the site:
  • Minestra Di Verza e Cotenne
    This is a frankly frugal Piemontese recipe, of the sort that even a poor family would have been able to afford in the past. We're better off now, but pig skins still do have a rather libidinous satiny texture that makes for a fine soup.
  • Inverzā
    Italy has a great many bean soups, most of which are rather creamy in texture. Minestra di Fagioli, or pasta fazool comes to mind. This bean and cabbage soup from the Veneto is instead liquid, and gains added body from slices of toasted bread. In short, simple, frugal winter fare of the kind once enjoyed by those who couldn't afford meat. No less good for that, and now a fine option for those who are cutting back on meat consumption.
  • Minestrone di Cavolo Verza
    Minestrone is more a universe than a recipe, with variations to suit every possible taste. This savoy cabbage minestrone is Campanian, and a welcome change of pace during the colder winter months of the cabbage season. It is very much simple peasant food.
  • Risi E Verze Alla Veneziana
    The Venetians introduced rice, which they got from the Arabs, to northern Italy, and developed a number of dishes that combine rice with other ingredients; the best known is Risi e Bisi, Rice & Peas, which was only prepared when the Doge (Venice's ruler) allowed. Risi e Verze, Rice & Savoy Cabbage, is a bit more plebian, and simple winter fare.
  • Fettuccine di Castagne Con Verze e Costine
    This is a winter recipe for fettuccine with Savoy cabbage and spare ribs from the Val D'Aosta, and will be a rather nice one-course meal. If you cannot find chestnut flour with which to make the pasta, regular store-bought fettuccine will also work, as would whole-wheat pasta.
  • Verza Con Noci e Cipolle
    Savoy cabbage is a wonderfully versatile vegetable, and works beautifully with onions and walnuts in this Piemontese vegetarian entree.
  • Involtini di Verza All'Anatra
    Rollups, or involtini, are usually meat-based, with vegetable filling. This Piemontese recipe instead has one use cabbage leaves as the base, and roll them up around bits of boned duck.
About Cavolo Verza, and More Recipes


November 6, 2008 at 9:37 am
(1) Louis says:

Dear Kyle,
i read your letter every other day if not every day; i am impress by your profound knowledge of Italy,his cuisine,regions and society,way more profound actually than the vast majority of the Italians living in the peninsula.
You have been very mild speaking about the infamous egocentrist Berlusconi…can you imagine such a dubious personage pretending giving “good” advise to Obama,i prefer to leave your readers beeing evaluators of such a vain comment from this manipulator. I appreciate you reporting it in your column though,it tells me where your stand and i am just happy of it.
Carry on your good work and don’t hesitate to mingle with eclectic subjects about Italy,i eat your comments like “petits fours”.
All the best,ciao,Louis

November 10, 2008 at 6:17 am
(2) 'della says:

I read all your columns but, being a rank amateur, there are quite a few ingredients included in some of the recipes that I don’t see on my grocer’s shelves. For instance, I rarely have the occasion to have to scrape the hair off of a piece of pig skin and haven’t found any any local farmers markets for whole hull peas. I’m sure they’re somewhere in the store in season but I haven’t noticed them. I should tell you that we live in a very small town with few “exotics” available–(took for-
ever to talk the produce manager into bringing in the Savoy cabbage even!) I don’t want to ask you to “bastardize” ANY of your beautiful recipes but, for us “barely-know-how-to-turn-
the-stove-on” types, could you sometimes “dumb it down” where you can for us? Thank you.

November 10, 2008 at 10:23 am
(3) Jane R says:

I Love your columns.

My grandparents were Italian Immigrants-My grandfather (Morino-actually Morini-it was changed when they came through I think) being born in Milan and my grandmother (Ferrari) from Reggio Emilia.
They settled in south western PA because the mountains reminded my grandfather of home in Italy. They farmed for a while (self sufficient type farming-he even made his own proscuitto) but mostly he mined hard coal (not soft) (his brother ended up in Chicago)
We lived in LI NY and would visit them 3 o4 times a year for a week or two at a time.
I Love your columns because they make me feel like I am home too. My grandmother made all my fathers favorites when we visited. Cappletti’s, potato gnocci, a grated noodle in broth (made with bread crumbs), fresh vegetables from their gardens-he grew the big stuff and she grew the salad stuff… and other things we all grew to love, and continue to make to this day…
Your columns take me back to them and give me a sense of family feeling. (My grandmother’s family is now in Rome…I do not know how long they were there)
My grandmother had to make many many substitutions, I am sure when they came to this country so I find it interesting to see your recipes and how close hers were to authentic Italy cooking. (not that her recipes weren’t Italian! My grandfather did not like tomato sauce…or he did not like her tomato sauce…so she would make a little pan on the stove for herself, which I always thought was interesting.)
From her I learned that you can make substitutions when necessary and it is still your recipe…
Anyway, thank you for your stories and history…it brings me back to them and all their stories…

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