Make Ahead

Buttermilk Bagna Cauda

June 14, 2010
1 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • melissav
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
  • Lois Soiffer
    Lois Soiffer
  • cookinalong
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

7 Reviews

Lois S. July 5, 2016
What would you substitute for the anchovies to allow the dressing to be vegetarian?
cookinalong July 4, 2016
I seldom have anchovies on hand. Can I substitute anchovy paste, and if so, what quantity of paste per fillet would you suggest?
Amanda H. July 4, 2016
I'd suggest 2 teaspoons anchovy paste.
luciana B. May 29, 2011
I was looking for bagna cauda, i tossed it with shrimps and its really great!
Amanda H. May 30, 2011
Great idea! Thanks.
melissav March 26, 2011
I finally got around to making this and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. I tossed it with boiled teeny tiny red potatoes, golden beets, carrots, and blanched green beans. We ate the whole bowlful for dinner. Delicious.
Amanda H. March 28, 2011
How sweet of you to write -- glad you liked it. Bet the beets were good!