Bagna Caulda with Winter Vegetables

This is a really delicious way of using up all sorts of winter vegetables. You can even use lightly blanched vegetables such as bitter greens but I like it most with a huge selection of raw winter veg. Bagna Caulda, literally meaning “hot bath”, is a warm garlic and anchovy mayonnaise which you dip your vegetables into, a bit like a fondue. Originally from Piedmont in Italy, it is traditionally eaten at Christmas and New Year. I real Winter salad!

 

Winter Vegetables

Really the veg is up to you but I used a combination of

a few young carrots , peeled and finely sliced

sweet baby peppers

a few small raw beetroots , peeled and finely sliced

a few sticks celery , trimmed and thinly sliced, yellow leaves reserved

½ small Romanesco or white cauliflower , broken into florets

1 bulb fennel , trimmed and finely sliced, herby tops reserved

1 bunch radishes , trimmed and washed

½ celeriac , peeled and finely sliced

 

Bagna Cauda

6 cloves garlic, peeled

300 ml milk

10 anchovy fillets in oil

180 ml extra virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling

2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

To make your sauce, put the garlic cloves, milk and anchovies into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer slowly for 10 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and tender, keeping a close eye on the pan to make sure the milk doesn’t boil over. Don’t worry if it spits and looks a little lumpy – simply remove from the heat and whiz the sauce up with a hand blender. Gently blend in the extra virgin olive oil and the vinegar a little at a time – you’re in control of the consistency at this point. If you like it thick, like mayonnaise, keep blending. Now taste it and adjust the seasoning. Make sure there’s enough acidity from the vinegar to act like a dressing. It should be an incredible, pungent warm sauce.

There are two ways you can serve this – with both you need the sauce to be warm. Either pour the sauce into a bowl and place this on a plate, with the veg arranged around the bowl, or serve the veg in a big bowl and drizzle the sauce over the top. Sprinkle over the reserved herby fennel tops and celery leaves and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Sicilian Pasta with Sautéed Romanesco, Chilli, Pine nuts, Currants, Parsley and Lemon

Sicily, surrounded by water and having many ports meant that it was a key player in the spice trail. Whereas other regions of Italy tended to rely solely on their own produce, Sicilian cooking has always been a little more adventurous with its ingredients. This amalgamation of chilli, pinenuts, currants, parsley and lemon zest is classic and its sophisticated sweet and sour combination works beautifully with the delectable Romanesco.

The amazing fractal Romanesco is closer related to broccoli than cauliflower and it has a delicate nutty flavour and great crunchy texture. It holds its shape much better than cauliflower which makes it a useful replacement in lots of recipes and it looks fabulous!

Sicilian Pasta with Sautéed Romanesco, Chilli, Pine nuts, Currants, Parsley and Lemon

Serves 2

1 small to medium Romanesco cauliflower, cut into small florets (use the stalk too, thinly sliced)

200g pasta

Extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped

100g pine nuts, toasted

100g currants or raisins

Zest of 1 & juice of ½ lemon

Large handful fresh parsley, chopped

Handful Parmesan, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a pan of boiling salted water, cook the Romanesco for 2-3 minutes, then drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water to stop any further cooking. Drain again and keep to one side. In another pan of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the Romanesco and fry for a couple of minutes until just starting to turn a golden colour. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for couple of minutes more. Add the pine nuts, sultanas, drained, cooked pasta, lemon juice and zest and parsley. Toss together to combine. Check seasoning and transfer to serving bowls and serve drizzled with a olive oil and some grated Parmesan.

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