Bagna Cauda Toasts with Radicchio, Egg, and Avocado

By • February 24, 2014 • 42 Comments



Author Notes: These toasts rank among the best things I’ve made in a long time. They’re all about layering and balancing bold flavors, which come together in a ridiculously good way. The bagna cauda dressing is loosely based on the one in Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book. It’s tempting to just whisk together all of the ingredients, but cooking the garlic and anchovy briefly in olive oil and butter tames the anchovies’ fishiness and the garlic’s bite. Tossing the shredded radicchio and arugula with pecorino before applying the dressing – a nod to Toro Bravo’s Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette on this site – makes it adhere better. Probably my favorite thing is how the warm dressing slackens the radicchio and arugula and coats the slices of egg and avocado. The shaved celery may seem superfluous, but it's the perfect foil to the richness of the other ingredients. You can get a lot of mileage from this recipe: serve crostini style at a dinner party, call them tartines if you’re feeling fancy for a light lunch or dinner, pile the salad high between two slices of bread for a sandwich, or serve as a plated salad with toast on the side. Whatever you do, just make plenty because you'll find yourself sneaking bites before it ever hits the plate.EmilyC

Food52 Review: WHO: EmilyC is a loyal Food52er who is never without the makings for chocolate chip cookies.
WHAT: Toast for dinner that won’t leave you wanting for anything.
HOW: Make a quick bagna cauda, pile toast high with dressed greens, eat.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We’re always tempted by the idea of toast for dinner — and this is how to do it right. This dish is bright and savory from the bagna cauda, rich from the avocado, filling from the egg, and comforting from the oil-slicked toast. Which is to say: It is everything we want in life.
A&M

Makes 8 large toasts

  • 10 anchovy fillets (olive oil-packed)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated zest + juice from 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head of raddichio (10 to 12 ounces), core removed, any bruised leaved discarded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano, finely grated
  • 1 avocado, cut into small cubes
  • 1 long stalk celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 8 thick slices of good quality, crusty bread, toasted
  1. For bagna cauda dressing: Using a mortar and pestle, sharp knife, or mini food processor, pulverize the anchovies and garlic to a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a small saucepan or skillet, and add butter and olive oil. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer over low heat; you should faintly hear the garlic and anchovy sizzle, and the anchovy should melt into the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add lemon zest and juice, and whisk until emulsified. Season with sea salt and/or more lemon juice, to taste.
  2. For hard-cooked eggs: In a large saucepan with tight-fitting lid, add eggs and cover with about 2-inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat, cover the pan, and a set a timer for 10 minutes. When timer goes off, drain the pot and transfer the eggs to a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, strain the water from the bowl. To peel, tap each egg a few times to crack its shell, then gently roll to break the shell completely. Peel under running water for ease.
  3. For radicchio (OPTIONAL STEP to lessen the radicchio’s bitterness, from Toro Bravo's Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette): Fill a large bowl with water, and add ice to make it icy cold. Remove ice, then add the radicchio to the water. Let radicchio sit for about 15 minutes, then strain and spin dry in a salad spinner. Be sure to remove ice from the water *before* adding the radicchio; otherwise, you’ll have to fish out small pieces of ice.
  4. For assembling toasts: In a large bowl, toss radicchio and arugula with Pecorino until evenly coated. Add the dressing, a little at a time, and toss to coat, tasting a few pieces of radicchio along the way to get the right amount of dressing. You want an assertively dressed but not overdressed salad. Gently fold in sliced egg, avocado, and celery. Drizzle a little more dressing over the salad, if needed. Brush each slice of toasted bread with the dressing, then pile high with the salad. Top with a few grains of sea salt (to taste). Eat with a fork and knife, or just pick it up and prepare to be messy. Leftover dressing can be tightly covered and refrigerated for a day; gently rewarm it over low heat before using.

Comments (42) Questions (0)

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4 months ago phip

What a gorgeous recipe. I followed your instructions to a "T" and even the anchovy haters ate it. I used the salt cured anchovies that I had waiting in the fridge. I wonder if they ever knew that they would one day be turned into such a wonderful meal

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4 months ago EmilyC

Lovely to hear! Thanks so much for trying them and reporting back!

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4 months ago zindc

Nanacy Silverton's bagna cauda oil is an element of my favorite pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in L.A.: Escarole, guanciale, egg and bagna cauda oil. The pizza is cooked in the wood oven about 90%, the egg is cracked on top and it goes back into the oven for less than a minute to cook the egg white--leaving the yolk runny. Then, it is pulled out and drizzled with the oil and some Italian oregano. Many similar elements on your open-faced sandwich. No wonder it's good. Maybe add crispy pancetta or guanciale for omnivorous diners' satisfaction.

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4 months ago EmilyC

That pizza sounds amazing! I'd love to eat at Mozza. And I agree, pancetta would be good here. Thanks for the ideas!

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4 months ago epicharis

I'm cooking these for the gentleman for dinner soon! But I have one dilemma---what in the world do I serve with it? It seems like something this outrageous needs an equally bold side or two. And what about dessert?! Any ideas? Thanks again for this Rachmaninoff-esque greatness!

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4 months ago EmilyC

Good question! I've never served these as a side (or with a side) but I'll bet they'd be fantastic with a big grilled ribeye. Or a completely different direction would be a simple but bold soup (roasted carrot or sweet potato), or this potato one (http://food52.com/recipes...). You could go with a chocolate torte or cake (like this one: http://food52.com/recipes...) but I think any number of desserts would follow these nicely. Hope you enjoy them!

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4 months ago cookbookchick

Yay Emily!! Some of my favorite ingredients all meeting up for lunch together! Congratulations!

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4 months ago EmilyC

Thanks cookbookchick! I feel the same way -- would eat these happily for lunch any day!

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4 months ago Kukla

Big Congratulations Emily!!! These flavors look right up my alley.

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4 months ago EmilyC

Thanks Kukla! You can't go wrong with any/all of these things on toast! : )

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4 months ago calendargirl

Emily, this is just so perfect. Thank you! A confession: I never really liked radicchio until this combination, which is truly genius.

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4 months ago EmilyC

Oh, I'm SO happy you liked them! Thanks so much for trying them and letting me know!

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4 months ago Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

Beautiful. Thank you!

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4 months ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, Pegeen!

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4 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Can I just say I'm not even the teesiest bit surprised this is a finalist? :) How do you think it would be without the cheese? I'm supposed to be laying off the dairy because it seems to upset the baby's tummy (which is kind of tragic because cheese normally makes up a large portion of my diet).

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4 months ago EmilyC

Thanks Em, and I think they'd be absolutely fine without the cheese. There are plenty of other flavors going on here! (I feel for you needing to lay off dairy -- it's obviously for a very good reason but so hard!) I'd love to know what you think if you try them.

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4 months ago LE BEC FIN

What an excellent piece of creativity, em! I like it that you kind of deconstructed and then reconstructed a caesar salad dressing, with some intriguing textures and more layers of flavor! you know what might be fun to add?-- toasted chopped walnuts and cubed and roasted beets! and, maybe for the vegans, sub sauteed mushrooms for the egg!

I find your recipe directions very clear and I love that you also teach a new trick (cutting bitterness) within your text. Thx so much.

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4 months ago EmilyC

Thanks for the nice note, LBF! If you try them, let me know!

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5 months ago HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

Congrats, EmilyC! Us Two in the finals makes me think that you can't lose with eggs and anchovies ;)

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thank you, HalfPint! Congrats to you, too. You're right, this is full-on battle of the eggs with anchovies on toast! : )

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5 months ago Kukla

Congratulations on being a finalist Emily!!! This sounds so good and looks beautiful too!!!

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thanks Kukla! They are beautiful in presentation, which makes them company worthy in my opinion. I haven't done this yet, but I like the idea of serving this as a plated salad with toast on the side.

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5 months ago calendargirl

Oh my gosh, Emily, I am late to this party but not for long! This looks amazing. Can't wait!

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5 months ago EmilyC

You're fashionably late! And thank you! I'm planning to make your currant-caraway shortbread over the weekend -- can't wait for that, either!

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5 months ago savorthis

Congrats Emily- this looks so tasty. I can't eat celery but I imagine fennel would do the trick!

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thanks savorthis! I've been meaning to try them with radish but hadn't thought of fennel -- I'm sure it'd be yummy here!

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5 months ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

HUGE CONGRATS, Em!!!

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thank you so much, Emily!

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5 months ago healthierkitchen

So glad this is a finalist! I volunteered to be a tester and one of my own recipes was up, but these looked so amazing.

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5 months ago EmilyC

Wendy -- I can't thank you enough for trying them! So glad you liked them.

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5 months ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This is gorgeous and I had a feeling it would be a finalist. Love all the flavors, it's on my shortlist. Congratulations Emily!

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thanks so much Suzanne! I'm really fond of these toasts so I'm super excited to see them in the finalist circle. Hope you like them if you try them!

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5 months ago healthierkitchen

Emily - this was our snow day lunch (I planned ahead on the groceries!) and it was just delicious! The combo of flavors was just right! Even my vegetarian daughter who had hers with plain vinaigrette loved it, though for sure she missed out on that something extra the anchovies add.

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5 months ago EmilyC

Wendy -- your comment just made my day, truly! So happy you tried and liked it, and glad to hear that your daughter enjoyed it too! (Fingers crossed that this is the LAST snow day until next winter...surely it is, right?!)

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5 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yummmmm! Why am I not eating this for lunch?!

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5 months ago EmilyC

You and me both! I wouldn't turn one down as a second lunch right about now, either! : )

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5 months ago cookinginvictoria

So beautiful -- and featuring so many of my favorite foods (radicchio, Pecorino cheese, anchovies and eggs). This looks seriously delicious. Can't wait to try this recipe, Emily.

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thanks Paula! We must have very similar palates because these are some of my very favorite foods, too! : )

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5 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Gorgeous! You have a great ability for artfully composing flavors and textures to create deliciousness.

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5 months ago EmilyC

Aww, thanks, you're very kind! And I should thank you for recommending the Toro Bravo radicchio salad for the Genius column. I LOVE that salad and it definitely inspired this one.

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5 months ago healthierkitchen

Wow, this looks great Emily! I love the mix of flavors and textures.

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5 months ago EmilyC

Thanks Wendy! Before making this dressing, I'd never used this many anchovies at once. It's so good in this salad!