This recipe for Bagna Càuda, Italian for 'hot dip,' is a decadent mixture of olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies served hot for dipping crusty bread and raw or boiled vegetables. Think of it as a deliciously umami fondue! A perfect way to start a meal and ready to serve in less than 20 minutes.
From the Piedmont region of Italy, Bagna Cauda means ‘hot bath’, and that’s just what it is for a wide assortment of crisp raw vegetables like: cauliflower, zucchini, radishes, endive, fennel, and sweet bell peppers. Or for tender boiled vegetables like artichokes and, when in Italy, cardoons (a tasty thistle in the sunflower family). The ritual in the region goes like this: dip vegetables, use a slice of bread to catch any drips; when bread is saturated, eat it; repeat.
Italy's Piedmont Region
Of the regions we visited in Italy, the northern Italian Piedmont region felt especially lavish: the festival devoted to cheese, the spectacular wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, a parade with thousands of costumes to celebrate a bareback horserace.
We stayed at a Villa in Asti where we were twice lucky: for having an apartment next to five lovely, lively ladies from Norway and for the timing of ripened grapes, which we all worked together to pick on the last day of our visit. Tim, the Villa's owner, promised to name the vintage ORwegian, for the couple from Oregon and the ladies from Norway who had finished the harvest (and had some fun crushing them, I Love Lucy style).
Even if you've never enjoyed anchovies, I bet you’ll like Bagna Cauda. Butter, olive oil and ample garlic cloves work magic to make this vegetable dipping sauce rich and salty without being at all fishy. You'll want to keep this Piedmontese dip warm, so for serving at a party or if you won't be eating it all right away, a butter warmer or small fondue pot are ideal serving vessels.
How to Make Bagna Cauda
Step 1: Simmer olive oil, garlic and anchovies in a small saucepan until garlic is fragrant, but hasn't begun to color.
Step 2: Add butter and stir until melted. Season with a few grinds of pepper.
Step 3: Serve (ideally in a butter warmer) with bread and vegetables for dipping.
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 6 anchovy fillets minced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Assorted raw and/or boiled vegetables
- ½-inch slices crusty baguette or peasant loaf
- Heat olive oil, garlic and anchovies in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, let simmer 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant, but hasn't taken on any color. Add butter and stir until melted. Add a few grinds of pepper and stir.
- Transfer bagna cauda to a bowl or butter warmer and serve with vegetables and bread for dipping.
- Note that nutrition information does not include the bread and/or vegetables.
- A butter warmer would be ideal keeping the bagna cauda warm if you won't be eating it immediately.