Spinach Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing

In the Piedmont region of Italy, the warm anchovy–olive oil sauce called bagna cauda is typically served as a dip for vegetables. Here, Justin Smillie turns it into a warm dressing for baby spinach, adding fresh bread crumbs for crunch. Slideshow: Italian SaladsRecipe from Food & Wine America's Greatest New Cooks 

Spinach Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing
Photo: © Christina Holmes
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
6 to 8


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 5 anchovies, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

  • 3 thyme sprigs

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs (see Note)

  • 10 ounces baby spinach

  • Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish


  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat until foaming. Add the anchovies and cook over moderately low heat until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Add the thyme sprigs and let steep for 20 minutes. Discard the thyme and season the dressing with salt and pepper.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the bread crumbs over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 4 minutes. Let the bread crumbs cool.

  3. In a large bowl, toss the spinach with half of the dressing and bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to plates or a platter and top with the remaining bread crumbs and the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pass the remaining dressing at the table and serve with lemon wedges.

Make Ahead

The bagna cauda dressing can be refrigerated overnight. Warm gently before using.


To make bread crumbs, tear 2 slices of day-old white bread into pieces, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 300° oven until dried but not browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form.

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