Dish of the Day: The northern italian classic of bagna cauda

Dan Doherty

Today, as I left the house, the feel of winter truly hit me. The crisp air, the smell of a log fire burning somewhere, seeing your breath, all tell tale signs the coldest season is here.

Some hate it, and crave the summer sun, but personally, I love it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than lying on a beach with a beer and a book, but there is something special about winter. Warming up in front of a fire, with ox cheeks braising slowly and parsnips roasting in the oven, a big glass of Chianti and a decent movie, that’s a good day right there.

Alas, though, sometimes you need to leave the house – to go shopping for instance. A trip not without its dangers, for me. On the drive to the shops, we go past a wine shop – hello 8 bottles of various Malbec, Shiraz and Merlot that I really didn’t need to buy.

Then, rather than searching for only the ingredients needed for our Sunday meal, I find myself buying large braising joints, mountains of root vegetables, an ox tongue,  a rolled pork belly and stupid amounts of chocolate.

cauliflower 300x225 Dish of the Day: The northern italian classic of bagna caudaRoasted cauliflower, bagna cauda, pickled walnuts

Piedmonts answer to fondue, bagna cauda is a northern Italian classic. Normally used for dipping vegetables, I like to pair it with roasted cauliflower and finish with tangy pickled walnuts to cut the richness. Traditionally it’s quite pungent in the garlic department, you can add or subtract, as you like. (I use confit garlic to soften it a little)

Makes – 4

Preparation time – 10 minutes

Cooking time – 20 minutes


1 Cauliflower, cut into fleurettes

150ml Olive Oil, the best you can get.

1 sprig Rosemary

4 cloves Confit Garlic

10 Brown Anchovy fillets

110g Unsalted Butter

8 Pickled Walnuts (best to buy, as finding walnuts fresh from the tree can be difficult)

2 handfuls Watercress

1 tablespoon Sherry Dressing


Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and blanch your cauliflower for 1 minute. Refresh in ice water the strain and dry.

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees.

Place the cauliflower fleurettes in a roasting tray, and light drizzle with 30ml of the olive oil. Add the rosemary and place in the oven for about 25minutes, until lightly browned.

In the meantime, make the bagna cauda.

Take the garlic, anchovies and olive oil and whisk together in a saucepan over a medium heat.

Cut the butter into 2cm cubes, and in batches of 5-6 at a time, add to the hot oil mix and whisk continuously so it emulsifies and becomes creamy.

When the cauliflower is ready, take out and divide between the plates. Drizzle the bagna cauda over and around, and place 2 pickled walnuts, broken with your fingers over the cauliflower.

Garnish with the watercress, dressed with the sherry dressing.

Now, this is all good and well, but, come tomorrow morning, I’ll be at work breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of the week, with a fridge, and then a freezer full of food. But there’s something, undoubtedly comforting about stocking up when the mercury falls.

This recipe should at least set you on your way to using some of your produce.

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