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Farinata di cavolo nero (Black cabbage and maize soup)

First courses

Farinata di cavolo nero is a typical recipe from the Prato and Pistoia areas, but widespread and popular throughout Tuscany: every city, every hamlet, even every family has its own recipe, obviously a special one!

This dish is enjoyed in winter, when it is very cold and Tuscan kale (cavolo nero/black cabbage) appears on the market. The best time is after the first frost, which seems to tone and give strength to the leaves of this unusual vegetable, which is difficult to find outside of Tuscany.

Farinata was usually eaten for dinner and the leftovers, once solidified, were sliced and grilled in the morning, for a hearty breakfast. Alternatively, the leftover farinata could be fried and garnished with tomato sauce, to be served again for dinner, as a fairly inexpensive way of satisfying hunger.


  • 1 kg Tuscan kale (black cabbage)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 stalks white celery
  • 3 mid-sized red onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200 gr. dried cannelloni beans
  • 40 gr. maize flour
  • 40 gr. tomato purée
  • 1 bunch lemon thyme
  • 10 gr. Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh sage


  1. Boil the beans in abundant water with the sage, 2 cloves of garlic and rosemary until soft and salt towards the end. Drain them but keep the water, and blend half of them and keep the other half whole.
  2. Coarsely chop the carrot, celery, onion and 2 remaining cloves of garlic and sauté in a saucepan with the olive oil.
  3. Add the lemon thyme, salt and pepper and cook well over a medium flame.
  4. Remove the central stalk from the Tuscan kale, chop coarsely and add to the cooked vegetables.
  5. Cook for another 5 minutes and add the tomato purée diluted in a little bean water.
  6. Add the rest of the bean water and cook for 1 ½ hrs over a medium flame. Then add part of the whole beans and the rest pureed very thickly.
  7. Add approx 1 litre water, bring to the boil and sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 20 minutes.
  8. Serve drizzled with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Curiosities and variations

There is a simpler version of farinata that only uses Tuscan kale and plenty of garlic to flavour the water the maize flour is cooked in. It is garnished with grated parmigiano cheese and extra-virgin olive oil.

There is also a modern version that purists spurn as being too far from tradition but which is enjoyed by those who like strong, tasty dishes. The sliced farinata is laid in a greased casserole and layered alternating with grated sheep cheese and olive oil aromatized with sage and rosemary. 10 minutes in the oven at 200° blends all the ingredients, enhancing the end result.