First of all, welcome to my newly designed website! For all of you subscribers, the emails will look slightly different from here on out, but the content will stay the same (recipes and meals from scratch in under an hour!). I’m also thrilled to announce that I’ll be teaching cooking classes from my home kitchen in Cold Spring starting in August. If you’re in the New York area, I’d love to see you at the first East Mountain Cooking School class, focused on easy grilling.
Now, back to cooking. I have a love affair with Bagna Cauda. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to describe it without invoking fear in the uninitiated. Bagna cauda is a sauce made with a load of garlic and anchovies, swimming in butter and olive oil. For some, that’s pure poetry. For all you doubters, just trust me here. The garlic and anchovies gently cook, slowly tangoing in the butter and oil until their flavors and textures are completely transformed. They become sweet and savory in an addicting, umami kind of way. One New Year’s Eve several years ago my dear friend (and old college roomie) Jordan and I spent an entire afternoon assembling the most beautiful platter of watermelon radishes, thinly sliced fennel, matchsticks of kohlrabi and colorful baby carrots, which we served (to ourselves) with warm bagna cauda and chilled sparkling rosé. It was the most elegant of snacks and a delicious food memory. (James, on the other hand, was a bit flabbergasted to discover that we had spent hours in the kitchen making a platter of raw vegetables—clearly he forgot that Jordan and I can easily while away whole days once we start talking.)
You can serve bagna cauda with pretty much any vegetable, but my very favorite way to eat it is with spring artichokes. I grew up dunking artichoke leaves in mayonnaise, and James grew up dunking them in melted butter. Dunking them in bagna cauda is not much different, just a hell of a lot tastier. In my version of bagna cauda, I add Parmesan cheese, which isn’t traditional, but which heightens the umami factor, as well as lemon juice, which brightens things up. The meatiness of the artichokes is the perfect pairing with the sweet succulence of the sauce. Serve this with a crisp rose, some torn bread, and call it dinner.
Artichokes with Bagna Cauda
- 4 globe artichokes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves , grated on a microplane
- 1 ½ tablespoons drained oil-packed anchovies , rinsed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Cut off the top ½-inch of each artichoke and discard. Trim the stem and peel it using a vegetable peeler (the stem is delicious). If the leaves are sharp, snip off the tips using kitchen shears. Slip the artichokes into the boiling water. Cover, leaving a small crack for some steam to escape, and simmer until the base is tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 30 minutes. Transfer to serving plates. Do Ahead: The artichokes can be made up to 1 hour in advance, if you don’t mind serving them at room temperature (they taste just as good!).
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally and mashing the anchovies with the back of the spoon, until the anchovies are completely dissolved and the bagna cauda smells amazing, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and Parmesan. Do Ahead: The bagna cauda can be made up to 1 hour in advance and left in the pan at room temperature.
- To serve, reheat the bagna cauda gently (if needed) and divide it among 4 small ramekins or dishes. Serve the artichokes with the bagna cauda for dipping.