When I lived in London, Polpo was one of my favourite restaurants. It served Venetian food that was the opposite to the tourist trap slop that Venice is usually famous for. ... I stole this recipe from their book, Polpo, because it reminds me of a time living overseas and being able to travel.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (53 votes)

This one can be passed off as vaguely healthy because it’s basically just a kale pesto of sorts. You can blanch the cavalo nero if you wish, or not. 


  • 1 bunch cavolo nero, stems discarded
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 100 g (I cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli (optional)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 500 g fresh gnocchi 
  • Grated pecorino, to serve 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the cavalo nero and cook for 4 minutes or until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve a little of the cooking water. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. Place in a food processor with the garlic, parmesan, chilli and olive oil and blitz until smooth, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen if necessary. Season to taste. You can add more or less olive oil depending on how rich you want it to be. I like it rich.
  1. Add the gnocchi the boiling water and cook according to packet directions.
  1. Heat a large frying pan over medium – high heat. Add the cavalo nero pesto and stir for a couple of minutes to help cook out the garlic and heat the sauce through. Add the gnocchi and toss until well combined. Serve scattered with grated pecorino.


Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Adam Liaw.