Spring Vegetable Bagna Cauda

When Seen Lippert visited Piedmont last fall, she ate bagna cauda in all kinds of incarnations: She dipped vegetables into the warm anchovy-and-garlic-infused oil in an old bean pot over an open fire, and she sampled it at the fancy Michelin-starred restaurant Il Pinocchio. Lippert's version includes butter, which makes the dish's flavor fuller and richer.

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  • Servings: 10 to 12

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  • Three 2-ounce cans oil-packed flat anchovies, drained and rinsed
  • 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 pound fava beans or edamame, shelled (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 bunch watercress, tough stems discarded
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 bunches red radishes, trimmed
  • 1 pound baby carrots, halved
  • 10 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered

How to make this recipe

  1. In a saucepan, combine the anchovies, garlic and oil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the garlic is very soft but not colored, about 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the butter and lemon juice and puree until the bagna cauda is smooth.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a plate and let cool. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool under cold running water. Pat dry; if using favas, peel off the beans' tough outer skins.

  3. Mound the watercress on a large platter. Arrange the fennel, radishes, carrots, eggs, asparagus and fava beans on top in separate piles and drizzle with some of the bagna cauda. Pour the remaining bagna cauda into a small bowl and serve with the vegetable platter.

Suggested Pairing

Piedmont, the original home of bagna cauda, is known for its Barolos and Barbarescos, but it also produces refreshing whites with the Arneis variety that pair nicely with the anchovy dip.

Contributed By Photo © John Kernick Published June 2005

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