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Creamy mozzarella, earthy, bright kale pesto and crunchy toasted bread. If you can think of a better appetizer, we'll still go with this one, thanks.

British chef Russell Norman has a longstanding affair with the cuisine of New York City — just pop into his Soho (London) diner and see for yourself, or pick up a copy of his new book, Spuntino: Comfort Food, named for the restaurant where it all happens. 

When it is in season, cavolo nero (kale) is one of my hero ingredients. Its deep, dark green color and its long crinkled leaves are incredibly glamorous, and it is surprisingly versatile. Florence Knight, one of my favorite chefs, picks the smallest, most delicate raw leaves and tosses them in a delightful anchovy dressing with bread fried in butter. Delicious. This recipe specifies a swift blanch; you really mustn’t overcook the cavolo nero, otherwise it loses much of its flavor and many of its nutrients, too.

Reprinted with permission from Spuntino: Comfort Food