I’m a salty girl, always, but I think my cravings are even more intense in the winter. Lately I’ve been plucking little balls of fresh mozzarella cheese from their whey bath, sprinkling them with salt, and popping them in my mouth like cherries. Good Lord they’re good that way – who needs tomatoes and basil?
Sort of my way of saying screw you to winter.
Another way (other than devouring a multi-course feast, below)? Have a party! Nothing tastes better with salt than wine and chat with a room full of girls, especially foodie girls who blog:
Food For My Family/Shaina
I Had A Delicious Time/Kelli
I Am Baker/Amanda
The Snyder 5/Molly
A Farm Girl’s Dabble/Brenda
All made their way through the cold and into my kitchen where we ate, drank, gossiped, and laughed our butts off because Molly Snyder and Amanda Rettke are two of the funniest people on the planet.
Yes, I served them plenty of salt – salami, egg salad, ricotta cheese, roasted tomatoes, bacon-wrapped dates, crostini, almonds, olives, and…bagna cauda. Have you had it before? It means “hot bath” in Italian and is a salt-lover’s dream come true. Bagna cauda is really nothing more than anchovies, butter, garlic, and olive oil, warmed together and served with raw vegetables for dipping.
I set out radishes, peppers, carrots, and cauliflower, but it was the cauliflower I hit the hardest, after everyone left, when the bagna cauda had been sitting in a warm fondue pot long enough for the butter solids, garlic, and anchovies to have toasted into an insanely delicious sludge at the bottom of the pot. It turns out that cauliflower, with its lovely bumps, is a perfect sludge-delivery vehicle.
I might pay later for eating almost an entire head of raw cauliflower dipped in anchovy butter…
…but so far I’m feeling pretty good.
From Bon Appetit, December 1992, via Epicurious.com
From the website: Literally translated as “hot bath,” this dipping sauce for vegetables often appears in many Italian homes as part of the Christmas Eve buffet. Although cardoons (an edible thistle related to the artichoke but resembling celery) are traditional, celery makes a fine substitute and any combination of vegetables will do. In Italy, the routine goes like this: Vegetable pieces are dipped into the sauce (a fondue-style fork will help) and then eaten, with a slice of bread held underneath to catch the drippings. Once the bread is soaked with sauce, it’s eaten, too. Then everyone starts over. It’s fun for a party appetizer no matter where you live.
3/4 c. olive oil
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 anchovy fillets
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
Assorted fresh, raw vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces
1 1-lb. loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut into 2-inch pieces
Blend oil, butter, anchovies, and garlic in processor until smooth. Transfer oil mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Cook over low heat 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Sauce will separate.) Season with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce into fondue pot or other flameproof casserole to keep warm. Serve with vegetables and bread.
Amy, OMG, that sounds incredible. All over it.
Who needs fondue? Bagna cauda all the way! (I once grilled romaine and liberally doused the charred, smoky leaves with bagna cauda as a variation of caesar salad. Oh, my, my, my...)
Thanks so much for hosting and posting :) Now I have the recipe and can try it out myself. Can't wait until next time!
FinnLover - Let me know what you think! There's nothing to it, done in 5 minutes. The leftovers, I'm finding, are delicious for frying eggs, stirring into simple broth soups. I've used it all up!
Molly - I loved having you here and look forward to seeing you again. You made the night, I'm so glad you could steal away for a bit.
1. Thank you for letting this decidedly non-foodie crash your amazing night.
2. Thank you for the compliment.
3. Thank you for being you.
4. Thank you for the details on the egg salad. I have been thinking about it ever since.
Mmmm! I've always wanted to try this. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can't wait to try it!
Thanks Sweetie - I hope I didn't contribute to swollen ankles by feeding you a salt bomb! Thank you for the Red Velvet Cupcake wine - seriously, how perfect is that? That reminds me, I need to take a pic of the adorable label! Hope everyone in your house is now healthy, sleep tight!
You are so sweet... and MAN you are a kick butt cook!! EVERYTHING you made better make its way on here... it was just the most amazing spread. But you know I loved this sauce... I think I might have drank some while you weren't looking. ;)
Brenda - Thank YOU for being here, and for the lovely bath salts, I had a terrific time. See you on the 7th!
Kristin - I'm looking for a new Xmas Eve tradition and this is totally worthy. Easy, and so delicious, and FESTIVE. Thank you for the note!
My husband and I make Bagna Cauda every Christmas Eve. Its a way of saying “bah humbug” to winter. A rich dish, so it’s a once-a-year special treat. I try not to think of how may hours cross country skiing it will take to burn off all that butter and cream (we add half & half to the mixture).
The photos are a beautiful way to present the dish to the rest of us.
It was ALL yum, and so much fun! Thanks for a great evening. Beautiful photos!!
Xiaolu - Hey, how cool! The anchovies end up so mellow and rich...
Oh this is totally new to me and I love the flavor anchovies give. Thanks for introducing me to this!
Those are absolutely the best! Can't wait to give this a try at my next dinner party!
Thanks Lauren! It is good, and fun, and fabulously salty-crunchy. All best things.
Oh I am a salt lover too! And this looks soooo good!