Make Ahead

Bagna Cauda Toasts with Radicchio, Egg, and Avocado

February 24, 2014
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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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.