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This recipe is an adaptation, albeit slight, from one of my absolute all time favourites from Theo Randall. It's a sauce that I go back to time and time again with Cavolo Nero being in season and particularly excellent through October, into November. Gloriously green, extremely simple to make and highly delicious, packed full of deep flavour from new season olive oil and delicious sweet, caramelised roast garlic that pair oh so perfectly with the strong flavour of the cabbage leaves.

Whereas the original recipe calls for the garlic to be blanched with the cavolo nero, I find by roasting a whole bulb first, scooping it out then mixing in at the end with the olive oil adds another (completely addictive) dimension.

Make sure you use new season harvest olive oil, the grassy, peppery flavours are key to this sauce. I highly recommend Green Olive Groves or Citizens of Soil, both absolutely stellar EVOO's from small batch production groves. 


1 whole bulb of garlic

Large bunch of Cavolo Nero leaves, 10-12, spines removed and leaves roughly chopped

125ml early harvest olive oil

Salt and pepper


Blanched hazelnuts


Step 1

Slice garlic bulb open ¼ way down from the top, drizzle exposed cloves generously with olive oil before popping the top back on and wrapping in foil. Roast in the oven for between 45 minutes and 1 hour at 200c. Allow to cool then squeeze/ scoop out the caramelized cloves then mash into a paste with a little coarse sea salt.

Towards the end of the cooking time, toast the hazelnuts in the oven until golden and fragrant.

Step 2

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil then blanch the cavolo nero for around 4 minutes. Have a bowl of iced water on hand to plunge the leaves into once done, this will halt the cooking process, shock the leaves and make sure they retain that gloriously verdant green colour. Don’t drain the water away, this can be used to cook the pasta too.

Squeeze the leaves to remove excess water then chop again before adding to a food processor with about ⅓ cup of cooking water to loosen. Add up to an additional ⅓ cup and blend to a smooth puree.

Step 3

Transfer puree to a bowl then stir through the olive oil and roasted garlic paste. Check seasoning and add a little more salt if required, finish with a few grinds of black pepper. Transfer to a saute pan and keep warm on a very low heat

Return the pan of water to the heat and whilst it comes to a boil, in a separate pan, melt 20g butter until foaming before adding the hazelnuts and tossing regularly as the butter browns.

Step 4

Cook pasta about a minute below the recommended time, the Garganelli I’ve used takes between 4 and 5 minutes, transfer to the cavolo nero sauce with a splash of the cooking water and finish the cooking process, tossing the pasta to coat every inch in the sauce.

Serve immediately with the hazelnuts spooned over the top with a final pour of the early harvest olive oil.

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