Bagna cauda with crudités and crusty bread makes a stellar, easy party appetizer any time of year.
Easter, like most everything, is sneaking right the heck up on me this year. But I’m delighted by the beautiful weather we’re having and the return of spring produce to the shops, even if I’m not quite checking whether the weather is seasonal or the produce is local. This easy appetizer platter with a mix of spring veggies, winter crossovers and hearty bread, feels like an honest take on the season.
Bagna cauda means hot dip or hot bath in Italian, and without getting too weird (although that ship sailed like 35 years ago), it’s a hot bath I’d be happy to take just about any time. Technically the bath is for the bread and vegetables, but you know what? It’s all good.
The main ingredients here are garlic and anchovies, butter and olive oil. And we might as well include freshly ground black pepper, actually — because that’s it. Five ingredients. Five minutes. Magic.
You can use whatever vegetables you like, making this not just a spring idea but a year-round option. Bagna cauda drips, I won’t lie. So veggies with a little cup (like endive) or some nooks and crannies (like broccoli and asparagus tips) work best.
Talk to you soon.
Bagna Cauda and Crudités Appetizer
This easy recipe, adapted from the legendary Marcella Hazan via Saveur, makes a great year-round party appetizer -- just swap in your favorite seasonal vegetables. Leftover bagna cauda is delicious over pasta, chicken or fish.
For the crudités
- 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 head Belgian endive, leaves separated
- 1 baguette, sliced
For the bagna cauda
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 ounces anchovy fillets, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fill a large pot halfway with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. When water boils, add broccoli and cook for one to two minutes, until bright green and not raw. Remove with a strainer to ice water. Repeat with asparagus. When vegetables are cool, blot dry and arrange on a large platter with endive and bread slices.
In a small pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter starts to foam. Add garlic and anchovy and cook, mashing anchovy against bottom and sides of pot with a spoon, until most of the anchovy has dissolved into the sauce, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, season to taste with pepper, and pour into a small bowl (or serve directly from pot). Serve warm, over a little Sterno burner or tea light if you like, with crudités and crusty bread.