Bagna cauda

Bagna caoda fished dish

Bagna caoda fished dish

Piedmont-flagBagna ca√īda.From¬†Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one ūüôā 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.


Fennel and lemon risotto

Risotto ai finocchi e limone. This is a Valentina Harris recipe. Serves 6

fennel and lemon risotto ingredients

fennel and lemon risotto ingredients

  • ¬† 500¬†grams¬† fennel bulbs
  • ¬† 1 onion — peeled and finely chopped
  • ¬† 75 grams¬† unsalted butter
  • ¬† 500¬†grams¬† risotto rice
  • ¬† 2 tablespoons¬† lemon juice
  • ¬† ¬†grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • ¬† ¬†salt and pepper
  • ¬† 1.5¬†¬†¬†litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¬† 75 grams¬† freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
  • ¬† 2 tablespoons¬† finely chopped mint or parsley — or both
  1. Take off all the hard external leaves of the fennel and trim away all the green bits. You should be left with tender, white fennel hearts.
  2. If you like a very strong flavour of fennel, add the discarded parts of the vegetable, carefully washed, to the stock.
  3. Slice the tender bulbs thinly and evenly. Fry the sliced fennel gently with half the butter and the onion until the fennel is tender, then add all the rice and stir.
  4. Add the lemon juice and stir again. Season thoroughly and continue in the usual way.
  5. At the end of cooking, stir in the rest of the butter, the lemon zest and the cheese.
  6. Cover and take off the heat, leave the rice to rest for about 4 minutes, then stir once more before transferring on to a warmed platter.
  7. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve at once.
fennel and lemon risotto finished dish

fennel and lemon risotto finished dish

Fennel ‘alla diavola’


Finocchi alla diavola.¬† Alla diavola¬†¬†translates as ‘the devil’s way’ which usually means a little spicy. In this case it means that the dish includes hot mustard. The recipe comes from the Silver Spoon, so I haven’t actually seen it in Italy.¬†It is¬†good for people who don’t normally like fennel, as the mustard and vinegar remove the strong aniseed taste that many people find distasteful. Serves 4.

Fennel alla diavola ingredients

Fennel alla diavola ingredients


  • 4 salted anchovies (or 8 tinned fillets) — cleaned, filleted and soaked, then chopped
  • 50¬†ml ¬†olive oil
  • 4 fennel bulbs — trimmed and cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp dijon or English mustard
  • 1 tsp¬†white wine vinegar
  • juice of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the anchovies and cook, mashing with a wooden spoon, until they have almost disintegrated, then add the fennel.
  2. Mix together the mustard and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the mixture over the fennel.
  3. Cover and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until the fennel is tender. Add a little water from time to time if necessary.
  4. Remove the fennel from the pan and place on a warmed serving dish. Turn up the heat, add the lemon juice to the cooking liquid and stir until it starts to thicken
  5. Pour the sauce over the fennel and serve.
Fennel alla diavola finished dish

Fennel alla diavola finished dish