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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.
David @ Spiced says
What a fun dip idea! I've never heard of bagna cauda before, but your description as a umami fondue totally caught my attention. I've also never really cooked with anchovies...and I'm thinking this recipe is a great place to start! Yum!
Thanks, David! I hope you'll give this a try! Anchovies are really a magic ingredient...use them once and I'm willing to bet it won't be the last time. 🙂
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Umami fondue, that is a good description of this Italian dipping sauce. Happy New Year.
Thank you, Karen! Happy New Year!!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
Hubby and I will sometimes have an olive oil/balsamic mixture as a bread for dip, eaten at room temp, but have never heard of bagna cauda. Would love to try...it sounds absolutely delicious, especially with those anchovies. Happy New Year, my friend! Can't wait to see what deliciousness you bring in 2019! XOXO
I think you two would love bagna cauda! Thanks so much, Dawn and Happy New Year!! xo
A good reason to visit the Piedmont region of Italy on our next trip. Until then, I'll have to make a few batches of your bagna cauda!
I think you'd love the Piedmont, Liz! Excited for you to try this! 🙂
Bagna cauda's the best! I have to try your recipe!
Thank you, Sabrina! Hope you love it!
Natasha @ Salt & Lavender says
This looks soo good!! I love cooking with anchovies... they add such a wonderful, salty flavor.
Thanks, Natasha! Me too...love them in so many things.
Helen @ Scrummy Lane says
I've never heard of this dip before, Marissa, but it sounds absolutely incredible.
I know some people are afraid of anchovies, but I love them. They add so much flavour.
I learn lots of new things from your blog - thank you!
I love to hear that, Helen. Thank you!! If you love anchovies, you have to promise to try this. Wish I could make a batch for you myself!
Dorothy Dunton says
Hi Marissa. I would be happy to eat bread, veggies and this dip for any meal. I always have tins of anchovies (and sardines) in the pantry. I use them in sauces, salads and, of course, on pizza.
We always have anchovies and sardines around too - such a great way to make a quick and delicious meal. And amen to anchovies on pizza! 😉
Ben | Havocinthekitchen says
Bagna Càuda? I've never herd this name! Neither have I tried a dip with anchovy. Honestly, some fresh crisp bread + olive oil or light dip + tomatoes can easily be my favorite meal during the all summer. Well, thanks for reminding I haven't had any this season yet:) And I'm going to try this Bagna Càuda cause it sounds great to me!
I hope you try it, Ben! It's one of those things that you try once and then crave all the time!
Amy (Savory Moments) says
I've really only eaten anchovies when they are mixed into Caeser salad dressing or in a pasta sauce, so I'm not sure if I like them or not. This looks like a great way to find out! It looks really good.
Shashi at Runninsrilankan says
Marissa, I haven't ever heard of bagna cuada before - I am so fascinated!
You've got to try it, Shashi! I promise, it's sooo good.
Marissa! I've never seen this before, thank you SO MUCH for introducing this to me! Gosh I love your blog so much. You have the most awesome recipes! Things I've never heard of before and classic done properly.....love it!
You are just the sweetest, Nagi! Thank you...
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I've got everything in my fridge now to make this-thanks Marissa! 😀 And I bet this brought back some really lovely memories for you!
It did, just wish we had more of that amazing wine from Barolo to go with it! 😉
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says
My dad loves anchovies but I've always been scared. Maybe Bagna Cauda will change this for me!
The anchovies melt in the butter and olive oil, so it's a great way to try them if you're apprehensive.
A hot bagna cauda bath sounds like the perfect kind! Especially when the temperature reads FEELS LIKE 14 outside. 😛
Ha! A warm dip for cold days.... 🙂