Bagna Cauda Salad with Optional Truffle Upgrade by Cal Peternell
Episode 18: Cal Peternell
Typically at my dinner parties, everyone eats standing around for at least part of the time. People get hungry, smelling enticing smells while they drink and talk in the kitchen, and start tearing into loaves of bread, dipping and smearing, and looking for where to put olive pits and radish tops. Kids’ mouths go green as a gang of them get to work with the chips on a bowl of guacamole. If I’ve made bagna cauda, it goes fast too. Bagna cauda—hot fragrant anchovy sauce to dip raw turnips into—might sound, to some, more like the end of the party than the beginning, but my experience tells a different story. Everyone, even the kids, loves bagna cauda.
Sometimes, however, the company isn’t right for dips and we need to eat it, whatever it is, another way. Times like when the guests are awkward with each other, meeting for the first time. Or it might be that it’s too cold in the backyard and we want to come in and sit, and the table is too big for everyone to reach. Or maybe I’m just feeling fancy. So I put this dip on plates, and everybody gets one! It’s more polite, sure, but no less fun, and as a bonus it helps to avoid squabbles and stains.
Makes 6 servings
2 almond-size garlic cloves
Kosher or sea salt
One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets (10 to 12 fillets), drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Good olive oil
1 black truffle (optional)
1½ pounds tender vegetables, such as white turnips, fennel, carrots, rutabaga, kohlrabi, radishes, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, celery
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (if not using truffle)
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with a pinch of salt until nearly liquid, then add the anchovies and pound to a paste. In a small skillet or saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovy mixture and cook, keeping the heat very low and stirring and mashing the anchovies occasionally, until it all melts together and smells really good, about 10 minutes. Add the black truffle, if using, and keep warm while you assemble the salad.
Using a very sharp knife or mandoline, carefully slice the vegetables as thinly as you can. For some things, like carrots, a vegetable peeler is good for making thin strips. Round shapes should be cut in half and set on the flat side for further slicing. Put the sliced vegetables in a large bowl and dress with salt, the vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss in the parsley if you’re not using truffle. Taste, adjust, and spread onto salad plates or a platter, not piled up, so that the bagna cauda can get everywhere. Spoon the warm bagna cauda over the salad and serve.
From Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta by Cal Peternell. Copyright © 2018 by Cal Peternell. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.