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Recipe Collection

Cavolo Nero Orzo

Olivia Cavalli Williamson

This orzo risotto is a quick and easy lunch or supper for one, but can be easily doubled or quadrupled if needed.

If you can, use homemade or a fresh shop-bought stock here rather than a cube which can overpower but if that’s all you’ve got, don’t let it stop you. 

Serves: 1

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Photography & food styling: Olivia Cavalli Williamson

Season: Autumn/Winter


1 handful walnuts
Approx. 100g cavolo nero
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1 clove garlic, skin removed and crushed but kept whole
1-2 anchovies

Pinch of chilli flakes
350ml stock, chicken or veg
120g orzo pasta
½ lemon
1 tbsp mascarpone
Parmesan, to serve


  1. Toast your walnuts in the oven for around 15 minutes at 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3.5. Remove and set aside for later. Strip the leaves from the tough stalks of the cavolo nero and discard. Chop the leaves roughly and rinse.

  2. Put the oil, garlic and anchovies in a pan and heat gently for around 3 minutes until the anchovies have melted and the garlic is fragrant. Add the chilli and continue to cook for another minute or so, stirring continuously. 

  3. Add the cavolo nero and cook for another 3-4 minutes until just wilted. Discard the garlic and transfer everything to a blender with about 50ml of the stock and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Blend to a smooth liquid. 

  4. Put the stock in the same pan that you cooked the veg (no need to wash it) and bring to the boil. Add the orzo and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for around 6-7 minutes, stirring every so often until the pasta has absorbed all of the stock – add a splash of water if it looks like it’s getting dry too soon. 

  5. Add the puréed cavolo nero and cook for another 2 minutes until everything has come together nicely and it has a similar consistency to risotto. Grate the zest of ¼ lemon in and stir through the mascarpone. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon if you want.

  6. Serve immediately with the walnuts crumbled on top, some Parmesan and a drizzle more oil (use your best one for this bit). 

— about the author

Olivia Cavalli-Williamson is a freelance chef, food stylist and writer whose family roots lie in Emilia Romagna in Italy. She first learnt to make pasta from her Nonna who would watch over like a hawk until she got it just right. Having recently undertaken the chef residency programme at Villa Lena in Tuscany, she is now focusing on teaching Italian cooking classes back in London.


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  1. AD says:

    This has become a staple recipe for me! So easy yet satisfying. I have impressed guests with it too.


— the pantry post.

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