Garden Lifestyle

Bagna Cauda

Learn how to prepare this special treat made with moist, recently cured garlic

Photo: Saxon Holt


4 garlic bulbs, cloves peeled
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup butter
2 oz. anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Serve with
6 to 8 cardoons, parboiled (see note)
12 to 18 small new potatoes, roasted
3 large artichokes, boiled, leaves and hearts separated and choke discarded
6 spring onions, grilled
12 to 18 small radishes, trimmed
4 cups large leafy greens (endive, radicchio, arugula, etc.)
1 loaf country-style bread

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Bagna cauda means “hot bath.” It is a special treat made with moist, recently cured garlic. For accompanying vegetables, choose whatever is in season. You will need a flame-proof bowl with a stand and a votive candle to keep the sauce warm. Or rig a stand from two bricks placed on their sides. Set the votive between, and rest the dish atop the bricks.

Cut each garlic clove into five or six thin, lengthwise slices. Place the garlic in a medium saucepan, add the wine, and set over low heat. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the garlic begins to soften. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the anchovies. Simmer two or three minutes, until the anchovies begin to break up. Add the olive oil, heat through, and stir the mixture into the garlic and wine. Simmer the sauce for three or four minutes, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables, and arrange them on a large platter. Heat the bread, cut it into large chunks, and wrap it in a heavy cloth napkin to keep it warm.

Set the stand with a votive candle in the center of the platter or alongside it. Reheat the sauce, light the candle, then pour the sauce into the flame-proof bowl. Arrange all the elements in the center of the table. Guests use their fingers to dip the vegetables and bread into the sauce.

Note: To prepare cardoons, have a pot of boiling salted water ready. Select the tender, inner stalks, and trim away any leaves. Cut them in half lengthwise, trim away the tough membrane on the inside of the stalk, and scrape off coarse fibers from the outside. Cut into 3-inch pieces and rinse. Simmer the cardoons in the water until just tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size and variety. Drain, refresh briefly in ice water, and drain again.


This recipe originally appeared in Kitchen Gardener #19 (February 1999).

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