Bagna Cauda (Garlic and Anchovy Sauce) wth Piedmontese Garnishes

7:00 am on 26 March 2012

Recently while in Piedmont in Italy I had this most beautiful dip called 'bagna cauda' with raw and roasted vegetables as garnishes as a snack. Bagna cauda is a garlic and anchovy sauce, which not only works superbly with chicken and and game birds but is also lovely smeared on bread with some lettuce and slices of hot beef.

Serves 2 (or 8 as a nibble)


Bagna cauda

  • 15 large garlic cloves, sliced into four
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) milk
  • 100 ml (31/2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 ml (12/3 fl oz) chardonnay vinegar
  • 1 long red chilli, halved, seeds
  • removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 10 anchovy fillets
  • fine sea salt

Piedmontese garnishes

The classic garnishes of the old Piedmontese days are cooked cardamom stalk and raw red capsicum, but I like to use a selection of the following:

  • thinly sliced raw Jerusalem artichokes
  • halved raw radishes
  • cos lettuce leaves and hearts
  • radicchio leaves
  • red witloof leaves
  • raw baby turnips
  • cabbage leaves
  • baby carrots
  • roasted capsicum
  • roasted beetroot
  • celery sticks
  • crusty fresh bread


For the bagna cauda, place the garlic and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil, turn down the heat to low and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the garlic has softened.

Strain, discarding the milk.

Give the garlic a rinse and pat dry with paper towel.

Wash out the pan and return the garlic to it.

Add the olive oil and cook over low heat for 40-50 minutes or until the garlic starts to turn a light brown but make sure it does not catch on the base of the pan.

Now add the vinegar, chilli and sugar and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the chilli softens. Add the anchovies and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Take off the heat and, using a fork, mash all the ingredients together until mushy.

Taste to see if it needs some salt and maybe a little more vinegar.

John Hawkesby’s wine recommendation

Mahurangi River 'Garden of Light' 2010

From Nine To Noon

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