Creamy cavolo nero pasta with sun dried tomatoes is a comforting pasta dish that’s so satisfying and indulgent. And it only takes 20 minutes to make! It’s great to cook all year around and is fantastic served with vegan garlic bread.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Italian heritage – this dish is our take on “pasta con cavolo nero’’ – a traditional dish that isn’t usually vegan. As I have a rich Italian heritage, I feel pretty confident when developing this recipe! While it isn’t something that my Italian Nonna cooked, it is a super simple dish that’s hard to get wrong! I just love cooking Italian food for this reason, so if you do too, check out our wild garlic pesto, vodka pasta, lentil bolognese and vegan carbonara.
Classic Tuscan flavours & ingredients – Aside from using cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), we've also used other traditional Tuscan ingredients and styles for this recipe, like olive oil, sun dried tomatoes and cream (vegan cream, of course). Cavolo nero pasta with sundried tomatoes is from Tuscany, so we wanted to keep it as close to the real deal as possible.
Quick and simple – just like our spaghetti arrabiata, this cavolo nero pasta is so quick and simple to make, while only needing a handful of ingredients. Italian food packs in the flavour without complicating the process!
📋 Ingredient Notes
Cavolo nero – cavolo nero is also known as Tuscan kale or black kale. It’s what this cavolo nero pasta with sundried tomatoes is named after. It’s actually a brassica that is very similar to kale and comes from Italy, the Tuscany area. It’s now grown all over the world, including in the UK. ‘Cavolo nero’ actually translates from Italian to English as ‘black cabbage’ – it’s clearly named after the way it looks!
Sun dried tomatoes – it’s best to use sun dried tomatoes that come in oil. In comparison to buying a packet of dry sun dried tomatoes. It adds a slick richness to the sauce, aided by the oil that has been steeped with the sun dried tomatoes. It really helps to add a depth of flavour. And it's another traditional ingredient that’s used in pasta con cavolo nero. As the sun dried tomatoes come in oil, we recommend saving the oil to use for cooking or adding to salad dressings in the future. Keep in an airtight container.
Vegan double cream – being vegan in 2022 (and beyond) is a joy. Things like vegan double cream (or single cream for that matter) didn’t even exist on supermarket shelves when I went vegan 6 years ago, and even then we had it good! So, how lucky are we? There are vegan double and single creams available. For this cavolo nero pasta with sun dried tomatoes, we recommend using the vegan double cream by Coconut Collab or Oatly. If you’d rather use a whole foods option, make a cashew nut paste, by soaking cashews in hot water for 30 minutes and then blending. It should be thick but still runny – like double cream.
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this easy cavolo nero and sun dried tomato pasta recipe.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making cavolo nero pasta with sun dried tomatoes. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions – usually this takes around 10 minutes until dente. Drain and don’t rinse.
2. While the spaghetti cooks, pop a good glug of olive oil (or the oil from sundried tomatoes) into a saucepan. Heat over a medium-high flame.
3. Start by adding the garlic and then stir for 30 seconds.
4. Pop in the cavolo nero for around 5 minutes – until the stalks start to become a little tender.
5. Throw in the sun-dried tomatoes, stir well.
6. Pour over the double cream. Stir well and heat through for just a couple of minutes.
7. Add in the vegan parmesan, then season generously with salt and pepper. Then pour in the lemon juice. Stir well.
8. Finally, stir in the spaghetti until it is well coated in the sauce. Tongs will help you to mix it well. Optionally add up to 3 tablespoons of water, if you’d like the sauce to be a little runnier. Even with this water, there won’t be loads of sauce, the spaghetti will be just perfectly coated.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
Trimming the stalks – a lot of recipes call for removing cavolo nero stalks. That's because they can be tough. We don't mind it, and they do become more tender as they cook. However, if you want to remove them, carefully cut down each side of the stalk, then simply shred the remaining leaves. If doing this, the recipe is even quicker as you only need to cook the leaves for around 1-2 minutes.
Don’t rinse the spaghetti – try to time cooking the spaghetti so that it's ready just as the sauce is ready. There's no need to rinse it. Rinsing the spaghetti removes the excess starch on the outside, which is actually great for helping the sauce cling to the pasta. Optionally, garnish with chopped fresh basil.
Cavolo nero is a type of kale that comes from Tuscany. It is dark in colour and looks like a large cabbage leaf. Similar in size to spring greens, but darker in colour and it has a firmer stalk. The name translates to ‘black cabbage’ in English.
There are many types of kale or cabbage that can be used as a replacement for cavolo nero. Kale, spring greens, collard greens or even mustard greens can be used. All vary in flavour slightly but will work in this Tuscan kale pasta.
Many recipes say to remove the stalks from cavolo nero, we don’t think it’s necessary but it does come down to preference. The stalk at the base of the cavolo nero is tougher, so once you have removed that bit, the rest will soften up while cooking. If you don’t want the stalks included, just cut away the stalk and shred the rest before adding to the cavolo nero pasta sauce.
🍝 Serving suggestions
- Vegan parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil
More recipes to try
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Cavolo Nero Pasta
- 300 g dried spaghetti
- olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves – minced
- 200 g cavolo nero – cut into 1” slices
- 150 g sun-dried tomatoes – thinly sliced
- 250 ml double cream
- ½ cup vegan parmesan cheese – grated
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
- Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions – usually this takes around 10 minutes until dente. Drain and don’t rinse.300 g dried spaghetti
- While the spaghetti cooks, pop a good glug of olive oil (or the oil from sundried tomatoes) into a large saucepan. Heat over a medium-high flame.olive oil
- Start by adding the garlic and then stir for 30 seconds.4 garlic cloves
- Pop in the cavolo nero for around 5 minutes – until the stalks start to become a little tender.200 g cavolo nero
- Throw in the sun-dried tomatoes, stir well.150 g sun-dried tomatoes
- Pour over the double cream and vegan parmesan cheese. Stir well and heat through for just a couple of minutes.250 ml double cream, ½ cup vegan parmesan cheese
- Season generously with salt and then pour in the lemon juice.Salt & pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Finally, stir in the cooked spaghetti until it is well coated in the sauce. Tongs will help you to make sure the spaghetti gets well coated but not mashed up.
- Optionally add up to 3 tablespoons of water, if you’d like the sauce to be a little runnier. Even with this water, there won’t be ample sauce, the spaghetti will be just perfectly coated.
- Not suitable for freezing, and is best served fresh.
- It keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat in the microwave until piping hot.
- Replace cavolo nero with kale, collard greens or spring greens if you don’t have cavolo nero.
- Use cashew cream if you don’t have vegan double cream.
- Vegan parmesan cheese can be substituted for nutritional yeast or homemade vegan parmesan made with cashews and nutritional yeast.
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