Tuscan Kale


Tuscan… Cavolo Nero… Dinosaur… Laciniato. These all are names I’ve seen — in grocery stores, farmers markets and cookbooks — for the blackish-green, rough, wrinkly kale.


It’s easy to see why it’s called Dinosaur, since the leaves are roughly textured, but this kale defies it’s rugged appearance. It is actually quite tender. Not as tender as Swiss chard or spinach, but it is more tender than say, mustard greens. And, it doesn’t have the grassy taste of some greens.

Because it’s tender — and doesn’t taste like grass — it’s a great green to eat raw, even though you can cook with it. In the past year, I’ve seen chopped kale salads appear on several restaurant menus, including Phoenix’s Gallo Blanco, as ensalada cortada. Gallo Blanco mixes chopped kale with other shredded cabbages, Manchego cheese, avocado and crunchy corn nuts and dehydrated peas.


Like all greens, Tuscan kale should be thoroughly washed and dried. Cut the tough stems out. Roll the leaves into a long cigar shape and slice crosswise into ribbons (you might remember this is the chiffonade technique). Now your kale is ready for whatever you chose to make.

For chopped salads, cut the ribbons into smaller pieces. For adding to stews or pastas, you can just use the ribbons without further cutting.


Tuscan kale is a blank canvas. You can put any flavor spin on it you want: Mexican, Asian or Italian. Traditionally, since it is an Italian green, it’s paired with Italian flavors, like white beans, pancetta, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar.

Later this week, I’ll have a recipe for you: a Christmas Kale Chopped Salad, using some of the season’s best ingredients.

In the meantime, here are a couple of recipes for cooking with Tuscan Kale:

Got a Tuscan kale recipe, too? Leave a link in the comments.

8 replies
  1. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    It just so happens I’ve some prehistoric-looking and not-grassy kale waiting in my fridge. It makes perfect sense, then, that the trusty and talented Chef Gwen, always primed for inspiration, was ready with this post. White beans and pancetta it is!

  2. Limamom
    Limamom says:

    I tried “regular” Kale and my husband was not impressed. I saw some Tuscan Kale at Wegmans and took a chance on it because it looked “softer.” I steamed it and added about 1 tsp. of salt to the water – it was delicious! My husband actually had two servings and commented that “this isn’t bad, better than that other stuff!”

  3. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    I bought organic tuscan kale in the bag. There is a gray film on leafs that does not rinse off but can be rubbed off using fingertips. Is this gray film normal and ok to eat?

    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Hi Tiffany…. sorry, I can’t help you. I haven’t ever seen the gray film you are talking about. I always follow the mantra, “when in doubt, throw it out.” You could take it back to the store where you purchased it and ask for your money back.


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