Bagna Cauda Salad

February 25, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The waiter delivered a plate covered with a tangle of crisp vegetable shavings, all slicked with a thin, pungent bagna cauda dressing.

At home, I improvised with a group of vegetables that are available in most grocery stores – by no means should you feel like you have to use all the vegetables in the following recipe; just try for 4 of them so there’s enough variety, and adjust the amounts accordingly. The salad holds up well, which is important for a packed lunch. But I may just serve this at my next dinner party. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 2 small carrots, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 radishes, trimmed
  • 2 small turnips, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 small beets, trimmed and peeled
  • 1/4 small butternut squash (the seed end, preferably), seeded and peeled
  • 8 brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup whole flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 small (or 1 medium) garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Cut the carrot into 3-inch-long, sliver thin batons (I first cut the carrot crosswise into 3-inch lengths; then I cut each piece in half lengthwise; finally, I cut each half lengthwise into 1/8-inch slivers.)
  2. Using a mandoline, slice the radishes, turnips, and beets crosswise into the thinnest circles possible – they should be translucent.
  3. Put the mandoline to work again: slice the butternut squash into the thinnest ribbons possible. Stop when you have 2 cups of ribbons.
  4. Pull the brussels sprouts into leaves – you may need to trim the stem as you go to help the leaves separate, and remember that the leaves tend to wind around the sprout, so you want to pull them off the sprout in an unwinding fashion.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, radishes, turnips, squash, brussels sprouts, and parsley. (Leave aside the beets until the end; otherwise, they'll stain the rest of the vegetables.) Mix with your hands to disperse the vegetables. You should have 4 to 6 cups of vegetables.
  6. In a mortar and pestle (or in a mini food processor or blender), pound the anchovy, garlic, and a large pinch of salt to a paste. Slowly beat in the lemon juice, followed by the olive oil, adding it in drops so the dressing has time to emulsify. Season to taste with salt, and add more lemon juice or oil if needed.
  7. Pour half the dressing over the vegetables and blend with your hands so you can separate the vegetables (they like to cling to each other). Mix and mix and mix! Then taste and adjust seasoning. If it’s good, slip the beets into the salad (but don't really mix them in), and let the salad rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Then eat, and feel virtuous.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • epicharis
  • Susan E. Levy
    Susan E. Levy
  • georgiegirl
  • mainecoon
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

20 Reviews

JayKayTee April 16, 2017
Made this yesterday: used spinach instead of brussels sprouts, omitted turnips added toasted pine nuts went ahead an added beets let sit for an hour, didn't have problem with bleeding beets, but I let all prep sit for 15 minutes before mixing. If I were serving to company, I'd mix beets separately then add before serving just to make sure all didn't turn into a red salad.

I can't think of a reason why this salad couldn't be made way ahead of time to serve. Slice all, mix dressing, refrigerate and mix 15 - 30 minutes before serving.
Patti August 19, 2015
How far ahead can you make this? I'd like to serve it for a party but can't do a lot of last minute prep. Thanks.
Amanda H. August 19, 2015
You could easily make it 2 hours ahead of time. Hope that helps!
Patti August 20, 2015
Thanks for the answer. Unfortunately I am looking for something fresh and vegetable-ish I can make early in the day for the evening. Doesn't sound like this will work, but I will definitely try Bagna Cauda Salad another time.
epicharis October 26, 2013
Could I bring this to work without my coworkers hating me? I worry that the smell of the dressing might be offensive.
Amanda H. October 26, 2013
Yes, absolutely -- there's no garlic in the dressing so while the flavor is pungent, the salad isn't super aromatic.
LittleMissMuffin January 31, 2015
I don't understand how there is no garlic in the dressing. Are you leaving the garlic in the mortar and pestle when u pour out the rest?
Amanda H. January 31, 2015
I'm so glad you commented because I have no idea why I said there was no garlic in the dressing -- there is *definitely* garlic in the dressing! 2 cloves, in fact! In Step 6, the garlic gets mashed with the anchovies and salt. Thanks for catching this -- and epicharis, apologies for misguiding you last year!
LittleMissMuffin February 5, 2015
Thanks so much for the quick reply. I made this for 8 people last weekend, all of whom said they didn't like anchovies or raw garlic and everyone loved it. I didn't tell them what was in the dressing until afterwards.
Susan E. September 5, 2013
This is a fabulous recipe and I love the anchovies!
Amanda H. September 5, 2013
Glad to hear it!
Jbkitchen January 10, 2013
I really like the addition of walnuts in my bagna couda. It is more hearty and I think would make it less Caesar-like.
Debgagnier January 9, 2013
Hello, do you precook any of the vegetables, like the brussel sprouts to keep them tender. sounds like a very yummy salad, and I will try it soon.
Amanda H. January 9, 2013
You don't need to if you slice the vegetables thinly enough, and it's always a good idea to let the salad sit after it's been dressed -- lets everything relax a bit. Hope you enjoy it!
georgiegirl March 20, 2011
Any suggestions as to what can be used instead of the anchovy fillets, for those vegetarians that won't eat the little critters?
Sadassa_Ulna March 20, 2011
Black olives or dulse (a reddish colored seaweed) might work.
Amanda H. March 20, 2011
Thanks Sadassa -- great ideas.
Emalani June 1, 2012
For my sister who doesn't like anchovies (weirdo), I put some of the brine in from the caper jar. Seems to give the dressing a similar punch.
mainecoon February 27, 2011
About that dinner party: Will your guests use forks, forks and knives, or--best of all but most unlikely--their fingers. I think this will be hard to manage with just a fork, while knife and fork seems like overkill for a raw salad. Fingers work great. (That was the way I tried it, and because it is so good I, too, want to serve it to guests. But maybe I should wait for picnic weather. Though that would make winter veggies unwelcome. What to do? what to do?)

On another point: When I do serve it to guests I think I will toss the beets separately, adding them to the whole only after getting them all well-coated. It turns out that even raw beets do bleed.

Amanda H. February 27, 2011
I'm so glad you brought this up because that's exactly what I did with the beets for the photo and I meant to include that process of adding them at the end in the recipe. Will fix it now -- thanks.