Baked fennel and cavalo nero with anchovies, capers and Parmesan

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

When I first come across cavalo nero (Italian black cabbage) I was intrigued about the best way to cook it. Savoy cabbage can be briefly boiled and is tender, but cavalo nero, like lots of vegetables, lends itself to slow cooking with other flavourings. Soups and stews are the thing, then you get the best out of it. Don't worry about overcooking it.

1-2 heads of cavalo nero weighing about 500g
2 bulbs of fennel
150ml of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2tbsp capers
1 x 50g can of anchovies in olive oil, drained
2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the fennel in a pan, cover with salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 35-40 minutes until tender to the point of a knife, then remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the cavalo nero, chop the leaves into mouth-size pieces, wash in cold water and drain. Cook in boiling, salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender, then drain in a colander.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 5.

Mix the garlic and half the olive oil with the cavalo nero and season with salt and pepper and lay it in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Cut each fennel bulb into 6 wedges and lay them on top of the cavalo nero. Season the fennel with salt and pepper and spoon over the rest of the olive oil.

Cover with a lid or foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the lid, arrange the anchovies over the fennel and scatter the capers on top. Sprinkle on the Parmesan and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.