Bagna cauda is a classic condiment of northwestern Italy. In its traditional presentation—alongside lots of sliced raw vegetables—it can be a meal in itself. It can also dress vegetables served as antipasti, as it does the cooked peppers here. Like many classical dishes, its name simply doesn’t translate sufficiently to reveal the traditions behind the dish: the words “hot bath” may not excite the palate, but that is precisely the aim of bagna cauda. It is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh raw vegetables in the colder months. Carrot and celery sticks, fennel, zucchini, radishes, cardoons, and peppers are typical vegetables for dipping into a central bowl.
With this recipe, you’ll probably end up with more bagna cauda than you need. Fortunately, the sauce keeps well for a few weeks stored in a jar or tightly covered container in the refrigerator, so you can make it in advance if necessary.–Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber
Peppers with Garlic-Anchovy Sauce Recipe
Hands-On Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes | Serves 4 as an antipasto
- 1 large head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 2 salted anchovies, or 4 to 6 small anchovy fillets in oil, well-rinsed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 small to medium bell peppers
- Salt and pepper
- 1. To make the bagna cauda, smash the garlic and chop and mash it together with the anchovies until they become a paste.
- 2. Gently warm the butter, olive oil, and milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat, add the anchovy-garlic paste, and stir well. Reduce the heat to very low and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally and never letting the fat begin to simmer, as you don’t want the garlic to brown and become bitter. Keep the sauce warm.
- 3. Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half lengthwise right through the stem. Pull out and discard the stems, seeds, and any loose interior membrane. Cut the pepper lengthwise into slices about 1 inch wide. Arrange the slices in a large skillet or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add about 1/2 inch of water and a couple pinches of salt and pepper, and cover the pan. Bring it to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender but not mushy, adding water if needed. (To check for doneness, use a pointed knife to poke a slice of pepper.)
- 4. Remove the peppers to a serving plate and allow to cool until warm before serving.
- 5. Spoon the warm bagna cauda over them and serve, putting extra bagna cauda in a serving bowl nearby.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
Peppers with Garlic-Anchovy Sauce Recipe © 2009 Deirdre Heekin | Caleb Barber. Photo © 2009 Charles Schiller. All rights reserved.