Rigatoni with cavolo nero pesto

Cavolo nero was a rather unknown vegetable to us. This recipe, however, persuaded us to give it a try. The refined taste of the cabbage in combination with the peppery taste of our olive oil has conquered our hearts (and bellies). Discover it for yourself.


  • 500g cavolo nero
  • 4 litres of water with 2 tbsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 150 ml il circolo ‘extra vierge’ olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 500 g rigatoni
  • Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. In a big pan cook 4 litres of water and add  2 tbsp salt.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves and add two cloves to the boiling water.
  3. Clean the cavolo nero by washing it and removing the stalks. Keep the leaves whole.
  4. Put the cavolo nero leaves in the boiling water. After 5 minutes remove it from the boiling water with a pair of pasta tongs.
    Don’t drain the water, you can still use it for cooking the rigatoni)
  5. For the pesto: put the cavolo nero with the two garlic cloves in a blender. Add another garlic clove and puree this. S;owly pour in the olive oil so you get a dark green, rather liquid pesto.
  6. Season to taste with pepper and salt.
  7. Bring the pan with water to the boil again and cook the rigatoni according to the cooking time on the package(or 2-3 minutes less if you like your pasta ‘al dente’).
  8. Drain the rigatoni and place it in a bowl, add the cavolo nero pesto and combine.
  9. Before serving drizzle some olive oil onto the rigatoni with cavolo nero pesto, and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese .

Adapted recipe from: River Cafe Cookbook by Ruth Rogers & Rose Gray

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