Make Ahead

Bagna Cauda Toasts with Radicchio, Egg, and Avocado

February 24, 2014
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 8 large toasts
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • So sett
    So sett
  • robin lewis
    robin lewis
  • booglix
  • Claudina
  • Nancy

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

53 Reviews

So S. February 20, 2021
Tastier than expected--was a huge hit
Substituted the radicchio for shaved brussel sprouts as I have a bunch of those
Kept everything else the same, served with homemade sourdough :)

The celery was nice, but not worth buying a whole thing of it if you don't already have it IMO
robin L. February 4, 2021
I forgot about this recipe! I just started following you on instagram and found it again. I made these toasts for a breakfast visit for friend one cold day in Chicago many years ago. It was delicious. I just happened to buy some anchovies recently, and I've just started to make no-knead bread...I am so excited to make this again!!
booglix April 30, 2019
I've made this for several years now, and it's my very favorite salad. I skip the celery, typically have parmigiano on hand rather than pecorino, measure most things by sight and feel, and arrange it differently (mostly mixed together as a salad, with quartered eggs on top and toast on the side), but otherwise I think the combination of ingredients is perfect. It's one of my favorite lunches at work! Filling and nutritious and delicious and not heavy. I prep the dressing, boil eggs, grate cheese, make a big container of the arugula and sliced radicchio, and bring these separately -- with a couple of avocados -- to work. Assembly takes less than five minutes, and it makes several days' worth of lunches. More than one friend knows it as "that salad" and eyes it jealously every time. Thank you!
Claudina April 17, 2017
I can´t find arugula. Is there anything to substitute, maybe spinach?
EmilyC April 19, 2017
Hello! Sorry for the delay in answering your question! Yes, it's fine to sub for the arugula...spinach would work, as would a spring mix / mesclun or even Italian parsley. I also like adding thinly sliced radishes to this salad as a variation. If they come with their green tops still attached, you can use them as the greens!
Dani June 12, 2016
This is possibly the best thing on the face of the earth. I couldn't love it more! Enough said.
Mariposa C. August 8, 2015
I developed an allergy to avocado. Any substitutes, or just leave it out?
EmilyC August 8, 2015
I'd say just leave it out!
Nancy May 27, 2015
You have NO idea how amazing this is! I made the Bagna Cauda 2 days ahead and rewarmed only what I needed. I did this as written and it's perfect, It is pretty messy to eat but who cares? Love this with a beautiful glass of Cava. I'm gonna eat this all summer! Thank you! Nancy
EmilyC May 28, 2015
Glad to know you like this as much as I do! : ) Thanks for circling back!
Tory N. April 6, 2015
i would love to try this very soon - how do you feel about using it as leftovers?
EmilyC April 6, 2015
If you want leftovers, I'd recommend prepping extra of all of the ingredients, and then tossing them together before serving. Or you can toss everything together several hours beforehand, and then add the arugula before serving. I find that arugula gets limp quickly. Hope this helps!
Joeyman9 April 4, 2015
Absolutely wonderful lunch, wife and I tried recipe prior to serving in the future for guests. We followed recipe very closely, most likely used double the amount of grated cheese and the doubled the amount of lemon zest and lemon juice suggested in the dressing. So good, we each had seconds, served well with a Sauvignon Blanc. Will serve this often. Fabulous layered flavors.
EmilyC April 6, 2015
So happy you liked it! Thanks so much for circling back.
walkie74 September 9, 2014
Aaand I'm hungry. While I'm cooking ribs. Doggone it...
phip April 6, 2014
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
EmilyC April 7, 2014
Lovely to hear! Thanks so much for trying them and reporting back!
zora April 1, 2014
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.
EmilyC April 1, 2014
That pizza sounds amazing! I'd love to eat at Mozza. And I agree, pancetta would be good here. Thanks for the ideas!
epicharis March 31, 2014
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!
EmilyC April 1, 2014
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 ( You could go with a chocolate torte or cake (like this one: but I think any number of desserts would follow these nicely. Hope you enjoy them!
Kukla March 19, 2014
Big Congratulations Emily!!! These flavors look right up my alley.
EmilyC March 21, 2014
Thanks Kukla! You can't go wrong with any/all of these things on toast! : )
calendargirl March 19, 2014
Emily, this is just so perfect. Thank you! A confession: I never really liked radicchio until this combination, which is truly genius.
EmilyC March 21, 2014
Oh, I'm SO happy you liked them! Thanks so much for trying them and letting me know!
Pegeen March 18, 2014
Beautiful. Thank you!
EmilyC March 18, 2014
Thanks so much, Pegeen!
fiveandspice March 17, 2014
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).
EmilyC March 17, 2014
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.
LeBec F. March 15, 2014
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.
EmilyC March 16, 2014
Thanks for the nice note, LBF! If you try them, let me know!
HalfPint March 14, 2014
Congrats, EmilyC! Us Two in the finals makes me think that you can't lose with eggs and anchovies ;)
EmilyC March 14, 2014
Thank you, HalfPint! Congrats to you, too. You're right, this is full-on battle of the eggs with anchovies on toast! : )
Kukla March 14, 2014
Congratulations on being a finalist Emily!!! This sounds so good and looks beautiful too!!!
EmilyC March 14, 2014
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.