Crostoni With Tuscan Kale and Beans

By Giulia Scarpaleggia
Giulia Scarpaleggia
Giulia Scarpaleggia
Giulia Scarpaleggia is a Tuscan-born and bred food writer, food photographer, and author of five cookbooks, including “From the Markets of Tuscany.” She is currently working on her sixth cookbook. Find her online at her blog, JulsKitchen.com
November 15, 2021 Updated: November 15, 2021

If there’s a favorite way to taste the olio nuovo in Tuscany, it has to be these Tuscan kale (cavolo nero) and cannellini bean crostoni, a real seasonal treat.

When you know you’ll be bringing home the freshly pressed olive oil, prepare all the trimmings in advance. Have some good crusty country bread ready, soak the cannellini beans and cook them until buttery, then tackle the cavolo nero.

Now is just the beginning of the season of cavolo nero, so be aware that its fibrous leaves might not yet have been tenderized by the first frost. Cook it for longer than you would normally expect, to soften its leathery leaves, until it surrenders into a buttery mess. Don’t drain it completely, as its flavorful cooking water will soften the toasted bread rubbed with garlic.

Top each slice of bread with cavolo nero and a generous spoonful of cooked cannellini beans, then season with salt and black pepper, and drizzle immediately with olio nuovo aplenty. Serve and enjoy; licking the dripping olive oil is part of the treat.

Serves 4

  • 1 big bunch Tuscan kale (cavolo nero), about 1 pound
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 4 slices Tuscan bread
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil (olio nuovo)

Strip the leaves off of the cavolo nero and remove the fibrous stalks. Rinse the leaves under running water and gather them in a large bowl.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and the cavolo nero. Submerge all the leaves with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat for about 1 hour.

Slice the Tuscan bread, toast the slices on a grill over a charcoal fire or on a griddle pan on high heat until nicely charred, then rub them with the garlic.

Drain the kale, but not completely; leave it quite watery. Chop it roughly and spoon it over the grilled slices of bread, then top the kale with the beans.

Season the crostoni with flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a good drizzle of olio nuovo, freshly pressed and still peppery and biting. Serve immediately.

Giulia Scarpaleggia is a Tuscan-born and bred food writer, food photographer, and author of five cookbooks, including “From the Markets of Tuscany.” She is currently working on her sixth cookbook. Find her online at her blog, JulsKitchen.com