Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cavolo nero bruschetta

As I’m writing this, I’m in pain. I had one of my wisdom teeth removed yesterday and it hurts like hell. I had never been to the dentist for anything other than a teeth cleaning and I have always been bragging about my healthy and good teeth. Not even one filling.

A month ago though, when I visited my dentist for a routine cleaning, she announced that my two lower wisdom teeth needed to be removed. I was terrified.

I have been through major operations and have endured a great deal of physical pain but never in any parts of my head. Not on my face, not in my mouth, not involving teeth!

I tried to be calm about it at first, but as the day of the extraction drew closer, I became agitated. S kept telling me it was nothing, my mom the same, but I knew it was going to be painful, if not during the actual removal of the tooth, but the anesthetic injection and afterwards.

Now, it is afterwards, and I’m in pain. I don’t like it. So to take my mind off the pain, I’m writing instead about these bruschette that I had when I could still chew without my jaw hurting. (It will pass, I know, bear with me, I’m in pain).

When I saw the last bunch of cavolo nero (Italian kale) at the super market the other day, I jumped on it before anyone else could snatch it. I love cavolo nero and its slightly bitter flavor reminds me a lot of the Greek wild greens zohos.

So what I did was simply boil it until its leaves became tender, removed the middle white vein and tossed the chopped leaves with good Greek olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I sliced a baguette and toasted it in the oven, I rubbed some garlic on one side of each slice, drizzled with some olive oil and arranged the kale on top. I topped the bruschette off with shaved Grana Padano and a final drizzling of olive oil, and it was the best lunch eaten on a sunny day. Simplicity in all its glory, and we needed nothing more.

PS. I’m removing the second wisdom tooth next month. Wish me luck!

Cavolo Nero and Grana Padano Bruschetta

If you can’t find cavolo nero, substitute with another type of kale.

Grana Padano is a delicious Italian cheese, similar to Parmesan but with fewer “crystals” and a milder and less salty flavor.

Yield: 14 small bruschette for 4-5 people

300 g cavolo nero (or other type of kale)
Juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 baguette (14 slices)
1 large garlic clove, peeled
Grana Padano, shaved
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: colander, vegetable or cheese peeler

Preheat your oven to 220ºC.

Fill a large pot with water and add some salt. Bring to the boil over high heat.
Rinse cavolo nero well under cold running water and trim the bottom very hard stems.
Add it to the pot and boil for about 6 minutes until the leaves are tender. Drain it in a colander and immediately run it under cold running water to stop it from cooking further.

Using a knife, cut off and discard the central hard white vein of each cavolo nero leaf (don’t remove it all the way up, it’s not that tough towards the tip of the leaf). Place leaves on paper towels to absorb the moisture and then chop them roughly (it’s easy to lay the leaves on the paper as the keep their shape when boiled). Add them to a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and half of the lemon juice, add salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning, olive oil and lemon.

In the meantime, place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Toast until they are crispy and crunchy and have taken on a golden brown color. Remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit, enough to handle. Take the garlic clove and rub it on one side of each slice of bread and drizzle with a little olive oil. Top with some of the dressed cavolo nero and add a piece of shaved Grana Padano on top. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bruschette and serve immediately.


  1. Ooh, having your wisdom teeth out is never fun. Here's to a speedy recovery! And these bruschetta look amazing as well. I love the contrast of vivid kale and pungent cheese.

  2. I am so sorry about your tooth/mouth pain. I know it goes away but I also know it is frustrating to love food and not be able to really eat what you might be craving. Best wishes for feeling better soon!

    I have learned so much about different cheeses here - thank you! I am home with a fresh bunch of the cavalo nero (called lacinto kale or dino kale here ???) . Also have my block of feta!

  3. I almost ran away from your post when I saw Dentist mentioned in it.
    However I love Cavalo Nero,it finely is possible to find it easier here in New Zealand .I love it in soups,just baised or even as a will get better.hard to chew on bruschetta with sore mouth.Agree about Grana Padano I prefer it to parmesan and it is cheaper too

  4. I hope the pain passes quickly and you're enjoying lots of yummy soups in the meantime. I love the simplicity in this bruschetta that allows the kale, lemon, and cheese to be front and center.

  5. Every time I see a recipe for kale I wonder if that might be the recipe that makes me like kale. Yours looks like a prime candidate!

  6. Best wishes for now and for next month.
    And what a delicious recipe you gave us.

  7. I had this most unpleasant dental procedure done a few years ago and it hurt much more than having my first child! I think I was shocked about the pain as well. Something so seemingly minor and small that can hurt so very much.
    But your kale recipe seems to have helped take your mind off it all and for that I am thankful. This too shall pass.

  8. Magda, you poor thing! I hope someone is taking good care of you and making your milkshakes and smoothies. I had all of my wisdom teeth removed years ago... it's so painful!
    Wishing you good healing,

  9. I had a wisdom tooth out last year, not much fun but as you say, the pain will pass. Your bruschetta look delicious though, something for you to look forward to. Hope you feel better soon.

  10. I was very nervous before I had a wisdom tooth pulled, but it all turned out okay. I ate milkshakes and mashed potatoes... I hope you are in less pain today. Take care, Denise

  11. Magda, I hope you feel better soon... At to be totally recovered before the second removal. My dentist wanted me to remove all my 4 wisdom teeth but since I still had some space we got to a compromise; if my front teeth started to go out of line, we would remove the wisdom ones. Luckily I still have all my teeth (at least until today, lol)

  12. I feel for you: I had my first wisdom tooth removed almost 20 years ago and then the other three pulled on the same day last year. Not fun. Thank goodness for pain killers!

  13. Hello all and thank you for the words of support! I'm so sorry to hear so many of you have had similar dentist experiences. It is awful!!
    Glad you also enjoyed the recipe for the bruschette. If only I could have some now!

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  15. Removal of a wisdom tooth is no joke, Magda. I also had 2 of my wisdom teeth removed before and it rendered me bedridden for almost a week. Nonetheless, you were still able to make a very well-written article. I hope you recovered quicker than expected and thanks for sharing this luscious recipe!

    Calandra Novak