These winter crostini of Tuscan kale flavored with lemon and garlic may seem simple, even too simple, but this is what makes crostini so wonderful – for both the cook and the eater. In a way, these particular crostini are just an elaboration on the most elemental of all crostini, Tuscany's fettunta – literally, the “greasy slice”: a slice of rustic Tuscan bread, chargrilled to toasty perfection, is rubbed with a raw garlic clove, seasoned with salt flakes and drenched in a rather lavish amount extra virgin olive oil. As simple as you can get, when done properly with good, thick, green olive oil and just the right amount of garlic, this is surely one of the most satisfying dishes on earth.
Add some cavolo nero, with its bumpy, long, cypress-green leaves, enchanced with a squeeze of lemon, and in under ten minutes, you have a delicious and healthy starter that tastes of a Tuscan winter. Try it also on crostini made of grilled or deep fried slices of polenta.
Cavolo nero or Tuscan kale has its own unique flavour but for the most authentic taste in this dish, it would best be substituted with silverbeet rather than other types of kale, such as curly kale. —Emiko
Cook the cavolo nero in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes until tender, then plunge in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry with kitchen paper and remove the central white vein, then chop roughly.
Lightly grill the slices of bread on a grill pan. While the bread is grilling, gently saute the slices of garlic in olive oil until soft but not coloured – essentially the oil is infusing with garlic. Add the cavolo nero and saute for a minute. Squeeze over lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Top crostini with the cavolo nero, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.