It’s the first day of spring. For a sprightly lunch or dinner dish, how about a spring salad with bagna càuda dressing?
Bagna càuda is a classic sauce from the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s made from olive oil, anchovies and garlic. The name means “hot bath,” since it’s served warm.
Bagna cauda is served with crudités, especially in fall and winter. It’s often part of a Christmas Eve buffet.
In our own version, we add slices of toasted plain and/or baguette to the crudités plate—because bagna càuda is a zesty bread dipper, too.
Bonus: Serve it as a piquant sauce with chicken and fish, poached or grilled.
Bagna càuda dates to the Middle Ages, during the expansion of commerce between France and Italy. Among other items, Italian merchants began to import salted anchovies.
A dip from Provence, anchoiade, is made with olive oil, garlic, white wine vinegar and anchovies. It likely crossed the border with the imported anchovies.
The Piemontese adjusted the recipe to their taste, warmed it up, and created bagna càuda.
For some time, bagna càuda was a food for ordinary people. It was not included in official Piedmontese cookbooks until 1875 [source].
Today, it is one of the most popular recipes to hail from the Piedmont region.
Last year, we came across an extension of the bagna càuda dip: as a warm dressing for a spring salad. We’ve enjoyed it several times since then
Some simple recipes require simply that the anchovy fillets be mashed with the garlic cloves. They are then simmered in olive oil for a few minutes to take the edge off the garlic.
Ingredients For 1 Cup Of Dressing (4 Servings)
Use whatever looks nice and springy in the produce aisle. We didn’t include carrot curls in the ingredients list, for example; but any salad vegetable fits right in.
*Red beets bleed.
1. MAKE the dressing: Pound the anchovies and garlic into a rough paste, using a mortar and pestle. Place in a small saucepan, add the olive oil and butter and simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes, until the anchovies have dissolved. Add the optional chile flakes before removing from the flame.
 Spring salad with chioggia beets, from Foster’s Market Cookbook.
2. TRANSFER Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Set aside to cool.
3. ARRANGE the salad on individual plates or on a large platter, as you prefer. Set a scallion across the plate. Garnish with the eggs or cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
4. WARM the dressing for 15 seconds in the microwave (or serve it at room temperature, if you prefer). Stir in the parsley right before serving.
5. DRIZZLE 1 tablespoon of over each plate of salad and put the remainder in a small pitcher for passing. Serve immediately.