Bagna Cauda

Bagna cauda – literally “hot bath” – is a Piedmontese dish similar to fondue.   Traditionally served in late autumn and winter with fresh vegetables and an occasional loaf of sourdough bread, bagna cauda is a deeply satisfying appetizer or light supper.   Not for the faint of palate, bagna cauda is a strongly flavored and deliciously robust dish.   Salty anchovies combine with pungent garlic in a swirling bath of unrefined olive oil and clarified butter.

For those following a dairy-free or primal diet, bagna cauda presents an excellent, nourishing dish in and of itself without any protracted or contrived substitutions.   Cardoons (a vegetable related to the artichoke), artichokes, celery, red peppers and onions are traditionally served alongside bagna cauda.   This elegantly simple pairing does much more than satisfy the tastebuds, indeed the high fat content of bagna cauda enables diners to better absorb the nutrients present in the vegetables – particularly beta carotene.

Bagna cauda, with its combination of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fat, is highly anti-inflammatory and represents an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins – particularly vitamins K, E and A (learn more about the importance of fat soluble vitamins).   The anchovies also contribute trace minerals like selenium, manganese and calcium.   The ghee included in this recipe, provided it’s from grass-fed cows, adds the power of CLA in all its cancer-fighting glory to the final dish (learn more about CLA: The Good Transfat).

bagna cauda recipe

By Jenny Published: September 4, 2009

  • Yield: approximately 14 1-oz portions

Bagna cauda - literally "hot bath" - is a Piedmontese dish similar to fondue. Traditionally served in late autumn and winter with fresh vegetables and an occasional loaf of sourdough bread, bagna cauda is a deeply satisfying appetizer or light supper. Not for the faint of palate, bagna cauda is a strongly flavored and deliciously robust dish. Salty anchovies combine with pungent garlic in a swirling bath of unrefined olive oil and clarified butter.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Clarified Butter or Grass-fed Ghee
  • 1 bulb Garlic (Minced)
  • 4 oz Wild-caught Anchovy Filets Packed in Olive Oil (Chopped)
  • 1 cup Unrefined Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Vegetables (to Serve)

Instructions

  1. Heat the ghee in a pan – preferably the pan in which you plan to serve the bagna cauda. Traditionalists use a clay pot; however, a fondue pot works nicely as well and any pot will due.
  2. When the ghee has melted, add the minced garlic and chopped anchovy filets.
  3. Continuously whisk the garlic and anchovy into the melted ghee over medium-low heat until the anchovies dissolve into a paste-like consistency and the garlic becomes slightly tender.
  4. Pour in the unrefined extra virgin olive oil and stir.
  5. Serve with fresh vegetables. The anchovies and garlic will settle to the bottom of the dish, so stir the bagna cauda as you serve it.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    Wow. That sounds wonderfully daring. I’m a big anchovy fan but don’t find many places to use them. Are the onions served alongside cooked or raw?

  2. Jenny says

    Both – raw sweet onion is delicious and brightly flavored while roasted onion is wonderful too with its striking depth of flavor.

  3. Helen says

    I have had fondue before. With this dish, do you do the same, stick food on a fork and cook it like fondue? Do you drink this soup????

    Sorry for these simple questions! :)

  4. Jenny says

    Helen -

    This is served very similarly to fondue.  Stick your veggie on a fork, sink it to the bottom and stir up the sauce before pulling it out.  SUPER yummy.  I also serve it less conventionally – poured over starchy vegetables or sourdough pasta.

  5. says

    This is my family’s signature dish…My grandfather’s family as from Piedmonte…We grew up eating this from when I was a little girl, traditionally on New Year’s Eve or Christmas Eve. We always added cream to the recipe, which although rich is absolutely divine.
    It’s delicious poured over roasted red peppers by the way…

  6. Melanie says

    I have a friend who lives in Turin, who grew up loathing this dish because it made her parents reek of garlic for days and days. I imagine that the medicinal properties of garlic are part of how this came to be a traditional Fall dish. Many cultures in cold climates use/d preserved garlic in Fall and Winter. Perhaps the secret of this tonic is that your germ-carrying friends avoid you because of the smell!

    By the way I think a true Piemontese would put an entire bulb, 10 or so cloves of garlic in the dish. I’m not quite that fond of garlic unless it is very young and fresh, which it is not likely to be so late in the season in California, so I adjust accordingly. Providing sprigs of parsley to chew on for their chlorophyll is always a welcome touch.

  7. Martha says

    I love the idea of having this with artichokes! I had never heard of Bagna Couda until I saw it at a local restauraunt. It was GAPS legal so I could actually eat it. :)

  8. says

    I am unfamiliar with this dish, though married a Neapolitan- Different from Piemonte I guess*

    Are the vegetables raw and cooked in the hot olive oil? Or pre-cooked and coated in the warm oil?

    Thanks- I have a fondue pot, artichokes are in season and ready to go! Love the idea! Especially
    the communal part of it is great for kids!

  9. says

    I just made this with artichokes for my husband and brother, and it was a big hit! Such a simple and delicious recipe. I have leftovers, which I want to try with other things. Right now I have simply covered the dish I used and left it on the counter. Do you recommend refrigerating the leftovers?

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