Russian salad, vitello tonnato, Bagna Cauda: culinary contamination!

Piedmontese recipes: let’s talk about how to integrate people through cooking!

A few days of celebration, the cold that seems not to want to leave yet and a few hours to dedicate to cooking. Here are the ingredients of this article!

  • Russian salad: certainly Piedmontese! Or not?
    There are those who say that in Italy, in the eighteenth century, there was talk of Genoese salad and that it was a dish loved by Ligurian aristocrats. Many others instead claim that the Russian salad IS PIEDMONTESE. And I want to believe it!

Why is it called Russian?
Perhaps the origin does not come from the fact that the Russian salad was really Russian. I found some mention of the fact that it was called that way because the service was “Russian style”, that is, that all the dishes were served together. I give you the recipe that I wrote years ago in my recipe book!

Piedmontese Russian salad: the original recipe

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise (made with yolks, a little olive oil, seed oil, salt and lemon!)
  • 2 potatoes
  • 3-4 of carrots
  • 1 box of tender peas (I buy the frozen ones and boil them. If you prefer you can use the already cooked ones
  • 7-8 pieces of pickles, chopped very fiiciest
    1 can of tuna (I prefer tuna in glass, but it was to give you the measure)
  • extra virgin olive oil q.b.
  • salt q.b.                                                               Preparation
    Cook vegetables separately. They must be very soft. When they are cooled, add them to the other ingredients (chop the tuna!) and stir carefully adjusting salt and adding a few tablespoons of EVO oil. At the end, add the mayonnaise, holding a few tablespoons to garnish. Stir again well. Flatten and level the Russian salad. Spread a veil of mayonnaise and make “the toppings”. Peas, a few cloves of carrot, a slice of hard-boiled egg will make some nice designs!


  • The “vitello tonnato”: Another “mythical” dish of Piedmontese cuisine?
    Raise your hand if you have not tasted the veal “tonnato”! If you have been in Piedmont, impossible!

To say appetizer in Piedmont and to say Vitel Tunè is almost the same thing! In Italy, however, there are many versions of this dish: Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia say they are repositories of the history of this dish. But Wikipedia (and Wikipedia has already bothered!) says that it is Piedmontese, and therefore ban to chatter, it is Piedmontese!

Let’s start with the fact that it’s a strange dish! Meat mixed with fish is not really usual. And then, if we think that Piedmont, the sea, just does not have it!

The veal tonnato, when it was born, had a sauce made with anchovies and capers. The anchovies and capers were the fruit of exchanges with Liguria. And this idea was born from these exchanges … so good!

Vitel tunè meant “tanned” veal. It is said that the tuna was added later, as ingredients, perhaps because of a mistake derived from the name!

MAJONESE? Yes or Not?
Let’s say that over time mayonnaise has been added to create the tuna sauce, which is very good moreover, that we know today. Some purist absolutely denies it. I like it in both recipes. On the contrary, I also love the sandwich with veal and tuna sauce! Try it to believe it…!

  • Bagna Càuda: the Piedmontese sauce that comes from France!
    The sauce made with salt, oil and anchovies was known and loved by merchants. But only “the poor” loved it. Today it has become an almost sought-after dish and even “Bagna Cauda Day” was created!

How was this dish born?
It is the collective dish. The dish of the party. You share the joy because it “gets wet” all together. It was the dish to celebrate the end of the grape harvest. But the farmers loved it also … at breakfast! Yes, because if you woke up at three o’clock in the morning, you had set up the barn, milked the cows, picked a few vegetables from the garden…you could also have breakfast with bagna cauda and a nice slice of bread!

Is it a Piedmontese recipe? Maybe from Monferrato and the Langhe
It seems that its origins are in Provence. Sauces based on anchovies, very similar, are already told in past centuries.

The traders of Monferrato, when they went to France to stock up on salt and anchovies, tasted and then “imported” this wonderful dish too!

Our tradition has added vegetables and made it into a “sauce”!

The ingredients and the recipe of bagna cauda
Now I tell you our recipe (for 4 people)

  • a head and a half of garlic
  • enough oil
  • 200 grams of anchovies “ripe”, you have to ask so!
  • Milk
  • a piece of butter
    Fillet and clean anchovies. Boil the garlic in milk until it becomes mush. Add the knob of butter. Put the anchovy fillets and work them always on the fire, until they are reduced to cream. Pour the oil to the desired consistency. It should then cook for about 30 minutes over very low heat!

Serve it on the table with nice slices of homemade bread and clean vegetables. Warm it up occasionally or put a small stove on the table to keep it warm throughout the meal.

But without the Piedmontese wines these excellent dishes would feel like orphans.

A good Barbera, for me, is the best accompaniment to these famous Piedmontese recipes.
If you want to come and taste these and other excellent Piedmontese dishes, I’m waiting for you to help you organize your ideal tour! Between wine cellars, walks to get rid of, restaurants and views, you will never feel full!

Go to our food and wine tours page for inspiration. But remember that we also create personalized tours!


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