Rosie Birkett’s Bagna Cauda (with cannellini beans!)

Bagna Cauda (with Cannellini Beans!)-11

A few years ago I had the extreme luck to nab a few days of work experience with the Jamie Oliver Food Team. On one of the days we were cooking and styling some recipes that had been commissioned by Delicious Holland magazine. We roasted huge shoulders of lamb with whole onions, shredded slow cooked pork and stirred paella all day.

Bagna Cauda (with Cannellini Beans!)-3

It wasn’t until lunch time, when we all finally took a break to eat, that I discovered the slow-cooked cannellini beans that had also been on the recipe list. They were so creamy with a lovely starchy bite, richness from butter and a punch of flavour from garlic and bay leaves. I think about those beans a lot. Especially because I didn’t even see them being made so I have NO IDEA what the recipe was.

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Serendipitously a few weeks ago, not long after I’d tried my first spoonful of bagna cauda, I spotted this recipe while looking through Rosie Birkett’s new book, A Lot on Her Plate*. As I read down the ingredients list I spotted the large amount of garlic coupled with cannellini beans and butter. Immediately the memories of the slow-cooked beans came back to me. Obviously there was no more page-turning needed. This dip is a somewhat lighter take on bagna cauda – it lessens the dependence on olive oil for creaminess by blending in cooked cannellini beans. You wouldn’t notice though as it’s completely buttery-smooth and rich!

– Adapted slightly from A Lot on Her Plate by Rosie Birkett*
– Rosie’s original recipe uses 15 anchovies. I didn’t want the dip to have such a strong, fishy flavour (I’m an anchovy wimp!) so I cut it down to 6 anchovies.
– I added thyme to the dip too which I think gives it a lovely freshness
– I used creme fraiche instead of double cream as it’s what I had to hand. Sour cream or cream cheese would work well too, I’m sure.

Rosie Birkett’s Bagna Cauda (with cannellini beans!)

4 from 1 vote
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  • 10 cloves of garlic , , peeled
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) milk
  • 6 good-quality anchovies , , jarred in oil, chopped
  • 25 g (1 oz/ 2 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 a , (400g / 14 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche or double cream
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme , , leaves picked
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • black pepper
  • crudites , (e.g. endive, carrots, celery, radishes, bell pepper, gem lettuce leaves)


  • Place the garlic cloves in a saucepan and cover with 100ml (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) of the milk. Leave to soak for 1 hour, drain and discard the milk. Place the garlic back in the saucepan with the rest of the milk and 1 tbsp of water. Gently cook, partly covered with a lid, over a low heat for 20 minutes until the garlic is super tender.
  • Add the chopped anchovies to the pan and cook, stirring until they have broken down. Add the butter and stir until melted. Pour this into a blender along with the drained beans, creme fraiche/cream, vinegar, olive oil and thyme leaves. Blitz until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add lemon juice and black pepper, to taste.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with the prepared crudites. The dip will keep for a couple of days covered in the fridge. You can warm it back up for dipping or use it to dress pasta.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!

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17 thoughts on “Rosie Birkett’s Bagna Cauda (with cannellini beans!)”

  1. This looks delicious. I always take a stash of vegetables into work for my lunch. I normally just have houmous or other dips. I will definitely use this for a change though.

    I’m an anchovy wimp too, so I’m relieved you reduced them in the recipe.

  2. This is SO my kinda eats! All that creamy dreamy-ness and THE BEANS. Give me this bowl of goodness and no one gets hurt. Pinned!

  3. All the more reason to buy some canned cannellini beans during my next trip to the grocery store. As if I needed another excuse to stock up on them!

  4. How “fishy” does it taste? I HATE anchovies but the rest of it sounds good. Do you think i could substitute something?

  5. I’ve never even heard of this type of soup but it sounds fantastic. As does that huge shoulder of lamb you were talking about!!

  6. I can’t stop thinking about this recipe, it seems that it will be made very soon. Thank you for highlighting it.

  7. I’m a sucker for cannellini beans – I adore them! I remember once going to a local restaurant in Florence and sat next to a lovely old Italian man who encouraged me to try bits of all his food: roasted salted chicken, fresh tomato ravioli and the creamiest cannellini beans doused in olive oil and crispy bits of garlic. Seriously the best thing I ate on the table and dream about it even today!

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