Bagna cauda

Bagna caoda fished dish

Bagna caoda fished dish

Piedmont-flagBagna caôda.From Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one :-) This dish is well known outside of Italy, but as is often the case it often is very different from the original. It is basically a warm anchovy and garlic dip for raw vegetables. These are two of my favourite things, so it’s one of my favourite antipasti. A lot of versions include milk or cream, but these are not found in the original Piemonte version

Bagna caoda ingredients

Bagna caoda ingredients

  • About 6 anchovy fillets per person. Salted are best, but tinned in oil will do. Soak them in a little white wine.
  • Garlic (from 2 or 3 cloves per person up to a whole head)
  • Olive oil, the best you can find, about 1/2 a wine glass per person. Only olive oil will do.
  • About 20 g of unsalted butter per person.
  • 1 egg per person(optional)

To serve, dip vegetables into the mixture. The recipe I have is very prescriptive and says you can only use vegetables that are in season and grow in Piedmont. I think this is going a bit far though. Some suggestions on what to serve with the Bagna Cauda (raw unless otherwise stated):-

  • Fresh bread
  • potatoes cooked in their skins and then peeled
  • Peppers roasted and peeled or raw
  • Onions boiled or baked
  • Sliced apples
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Jerusalem artichokes (raw or cooked))
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower (raw or cooked)
  • Endive
  • Celery
  • Courgettes
  • Small globe artichoke
  • Cardoons
  • Cucumber
  • Radicchio
  • Asparagus
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Small whole mushrooms
Bagna caoda vegetables

Bagna caoda vegetables

Slice the garlic very thinly and soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Some recipes call for it to be boiled in milk, but I think this is unnecessary.

Add all the ingredients to an earthenware pot along with a small ladle of oil and cook very slowly for about half an hour. Don’t let the garlic brown. Stir it constantly with a wooden spoon. When the anchovies and garlic have dissolved into the sauce, add the rest of the oil.

Bring the pot to the table and keep it warm with some kind heat source.  You can buy special pots for this purpose, but fondue sets work well. Serve it with your selection of vegetables.

When you have had your fill of vegetables you can add a beaten egg to what’s left in the pot.

Bavette with clams and courgettes

Bavette alle vongole e zucchine. This is a nice alternative to the standard spaghetti alle vongole recipe. Serves 4.

  • 320g bavette
  • 800g clams
  • 1 shallot – finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic – peeled, whole
  • 1 chilli (fresh or dried) or to taste
  • 300g courgettes – cut into match sticks
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 200g tomatoes – peeled and diced
Bavette with clams and courgettes ingredients

Bavette with clams and courgettes ingredients

  1. Open the clams by  putting them in a dry pan over a high heat for about 5 minutes. Reserve any liquid that is produced.
  2. Remove the clams from their shells and put aside.
  3. Heat some oil in a pan and cook the shallot, chilli and garlic clove until softened.
  4. Remove and discard the garlic.
  5. Add the clams, courgettes and parsley and cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add the wine and the liquid from the clams and allow to reduce for a while.
  7. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook  until the sauce thickens – about 20-30 minutes.
  8. Cook the bavette until al dente, drain and add to the pan with the sauce and mix well.
Bavette with clams and courgettes finished dish

Bavette with clams and courgettes finished dish

Spaghetti with Prawns and Courgettes

Spaghetti zucchine e gamberetti. I cooked this to use up the leftover prawns from yesterday’s trip to the  fish market. Serves 4.

Spaghetti with prawns and courgettes ingredients

  • 320g spaghetti
  • 300g medium prawns, legs and antenae removed.
  • 1tbsp capers – soaked for a few minutes and drained.
  • 3 small or 1 large courgette -sliced thinly into rounds or quartered lengthways and sliced into quadrants if large.
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • Tomato sauce or passata
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  1. Fry the onion gently in the oil until it starts to soften.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, the capers and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile fry the courgettes gently in olive oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the prawns to the tomato sauce and cook for a further few minutes until the prawns are cooked.
  5. At the last minute add the courgetttes to the sauce.
  6. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti until al dente.
  7. Dress the pasta with the sauce and serve.

Spaghetti with prawns and courgettes finished dish

Spaghetti with courgettes

Spaghetti con le zucchine. Serves 4

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion,peeled
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 350g courgettes, thinly sliced
  • 150g mozzarella, diced finely
  • 25g parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the whole garlic clove, the whole onion, the sage leaves and the stick of celery and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium. When boiling add the courgettes. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for around 15 minutes.
  • Remove the garlic, onion, celery and sage and discard.
  • Cook the spaghetti, drain and the toss first with the sauce, then the mozzarella and finally with the parmesan.

Poor man’s courgettes – Salento style

Zucchine alla poverella, versione salentina. From Salento, Puglia.

  • 1 kilogram courgettes, washed and cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • olive oil
  • parsley, chopped
  • salt

  1. Sprinkle the courgettes with salt and drain in a colander for a while to remove some of their liquid.
  2. Fry the cloves of garlic in plenty of olive oil until golden. Remove the garlic and discard.
  3. Add the courgettes to the pan and fry until done. Note: Shake the pan rather than stirring to avoid the courgettes becoming mushy.
  4. Adjust the salt, sprinkle with parsley and serve as an antipasto or a side dish (it is also good cold)

Tagliatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu

Serves 4

tagliatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu ingredients

  •   500 grams  fresh tagliatelle
  •   1      medium  carrot — roughly chopped
  •   1      stick  celery — roughly chopped
  •   1      medium  red onion — roughly chopped
  •   1      medium  courgette — diced
  •   400 grams  italian sausage — skinned
  •   2      tablespoons  cream
  •   1      glass  red wine
  •           olive oil
  •           salt
  •           parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Fry the carrot, celery and onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes.l
  2. Add the courgettes and cook for a few minutes longer.
  3. Add the sausage and mix well. Season with salt and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the wine and allow it to partially evaporate.
  5. Reduce the heat and cook for a further 20 mins
  6. Remove from the heat and add the cream
  7. Serve with tagliatelle and parmesan.

taglatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu finished dish

Fried courgette flowers

Fiori di zucca fritti. Courgette flowers are just starting to become available in markets in the UK, however, I wouldn’t attempt this dish unless you can get them really fresh. If you grow your own courgettes, you’re laughing . I am growing them in pots on my balcony this year so this recipe will get a lot of use.

Flower on the plant

Flower on the plant

To trim, if they are male flowers they will have a straight stalk, trim the ends if needed, gently open up the flower and pinch out the stamens.  If they are female flowers they will have a courgette attached. If it is a baby, cut it into 4, but leave it attached to the flower, otherwise detach the flower. Serves 4

Courgette flowers

Courgette flowers

  • 12 courgette flowers, trimmed

For the batter

  • 350g 00 flour
  • 400 ml cold water
  • A large pinch of salt

Mix together the flour, water and salt. Add enough water to get a consistency of single cream. Leave to rest for an hour or so.

Fried cougette flowers batter

Fried cougette flowers batter

Dip the flowers in the batter and deep fry until they are lightly brown

Fried courgette flowers frying

Fried courgette flowers frying

Drain on kitchen paper, season with salt and serve immediately.

Fried courgette flowers finished dish

Fried courgette flowers finished dish

Courgette salad

Some friends recommended a little osteria in the old city, so I gave it a go last weekend. We were warned beforehand about the offhand rudeness of the staff. Just as well, because it wasn’t an exaggeration :-)

“You want to eat? Sit there! No, not there, THERE!”

He was just as bad to the locals, so we didn’t feel picked on. The food more than made up for it. (It was actually quite entertaining in a ‘Fawlty Towers’ kind of way)

This is my attempt to recreate a salad served as part of the antipasti. Again, it is so simple that it doesn’t really count as a recipe. You must use really small and fresh courgettes though.

Courgette salad ingredients

Courgette salad ingredients

  • Small, very fresh courgette,, halved and then thinly sliced.
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt

  1. Season the courgettes with a little salt and then dress with oil and vinegar (about 3-1 oil to vinegar)
    Errrmmm…that’s it :-)
Courgette salad

Courgette salad


The original version looked like this.

osteria antipasti

Ditali with courgettes

Serves 4

ditali with courgettes ingredients

  •   320 grams  ditali
  •   4 medium  courgettes — cut into matchsticks
  •   4 tablespoons  Pecorino — grated
  •   2  cloves  garlic — chopped
  •   5  tablespoons  olive oil
  •   several sprigs  parsley — chopped
  1. Fry the garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then add the courgettes.
  2. Fry for a few minutes, until the courgettes begin to change colour.
  3. Turn out onto a paper towel to drain
  4. When the pasta is cooked, mix in the courgettes, pecorino and parsley

ditali with courgettes finished dish

Nonna Stella’s courgette and mint frittata

Bari crestI stumbled across  this recipe on youtube. Nonna (granny) Stella has decided to provide us with a video course on ‘la cucina barese’ – the cuisine of Bari. Each episode shows Nonna explaining a recipe to her grandson. It’s really a pleasure to watch this wonderful old lady in action.  Like all the best cooks, Nonna doesn’t give precise measurements. She does it by look and feel. At one point he comments  ‘you’re using a lot of oil’ and Nonna replies ‘ that was 3 tablespoons’. All I can say is that they must have big tablespoons in her house :-)
This is my attempt at the recipe.

Courgette frittata ingredents

Courgette frittata ingredents

Serves 4

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves
  • 4 courgettes, diced
  • 1 medium  onion
  • 4 tbsp  parmesan cheese or grana– grated
  • 3 tbsp  olive oil (!?!!)
  1. Fry the courgette, onion and mint in a non stick frying pan until the courgette has changed colour.
  2. Be careful not to overcook it. (You don’t want mushy courgettes). Season with a little salt.
  3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the cheese. Mix well.
  4. When the courgettes are ready, add the eggs to the pan.
  5. Stir for the first minute or so and then wait for the eggs to start to set, shaking the pan from time to time to keep the frittata loose.
  6. When the eggs have set, turn the frittata with the aid of a plate, and return it to the pan.
  7. After another couple of minutes cooking, the frittata is ready
Courgette and mint frittata finished dish

Courgette and mint frittata finished dish

Courgette Carbonara

Another courgette recipe. We have a bit of a glut of them here at the moment so I’ve been asking around for recipes. I almost used the title ‘vegetarian carbonara’ but that would be missing the point. Italians don’t really get the idea of ‘vegetarian’ and ‘non-vegetarian’. If it tastes good, they’ll eat it. This dish stands up in its own right and is in no way a slightly inferior vegetarian ‘version’. Serves 4

  • 320 grams spaghetti
  • 200 grams courgette — Cut into rounds
  • 3 whole eggs – You MUST use very fresh eggs as they are only lightly ‘cooked’ in the heat of the pasta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled but left whole)
  • 4 tablespoons pecorino Romano– grated (or parmesan)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley — chopped
  • pepper
  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan with the garlic.
  2. Add the courgettes and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
  3. Mix together the whole eggs, the egg yolk and the pecorino.
  4. Season with pepper. (wait until the end to add salt as pecorino is very salty)
  5. Cook the spaghetti, drain and very quickly mix in the egg mixture.
  6. Add the courgettes to the spaghetti mixture.
  7. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter

Farfalle Gialle e Verdi. I had this for dinner tonight. Rather nice, even if I do say so myself. :-) Serves 4

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter ingredients

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter ingredients

  1. Fry Courgettes in a little olive oil over high heat until transparent. Set aside
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente.
  3. Melt the butter in a baine marie. Add the saffron and let it infuse.
  4. Mix the pasta with the saffron butter
  5. Add the fried courgettes and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and serve
Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter finished dish

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter finished dish