Buttermilk Bagna Cauda

June 14, 2010

Author Notes: I love bagna cauda, the warm Italian garlic-and-anchovy sauce, almost as much as I love my children.
This past week, a certain food52 member -- brooke's kitchen -- came up with this stunning Caesar dressing based on buttermilk, and this got me wondering what would happen if you combined pungent bagna cauda with a bit of taming buttermilk (and a thyme sprig or two)?
I will tell you: you get a pungent sauce that's a little rounder on the edges and more fragrant -- I won't say it's tangy, and I can't promise creamy, but you will get something subtly different, something you'll want to immediately plunge a blanched green bean or tiny carrot into.
Amanda Hesser

Serves: 4


  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt, more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Fresh and lightly blanched vegetables, like asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, small carrots, etc., at room temperature
In This Recipe


  1. Drop the garlic and thyme into a small saucepan, add the butter and melt over low heat. Simmer the garlic (pulling the pan off the heat if the butter ever bubbles actively) until it's softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the anchovies and mash with a wooden spoon to dissolve them. Stir in the olive oil and let heat through. Season with salt -- taste as you go!
  3. Whisk in the buttermilk. Serve with a platter of vegetables.

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