Bon Appétit (April 2011)
Food magazines frequently have a page toward the back of an issue where they'll pull together some of the recipes featured that month into little menus for different dinners or events.
We often find these menus a little humorous, just because they can be oddly specific, like "Bridal Luncheon" or "Poker Night." Like, "We'll, I hadn't thought of throwing a baby shower, but gosh this menu sounds good..."
Anyway, the joke's on us, we guess. Last night, we hosted a meeting of our book club. And there at the back of the April issue of Bon Appétit, right at the top of a menu labeled "Book Club," was this Bagna Cauda with Assorted Vegetables.
This Bagna Cauda, which hails from Italy's Piedmont region and translates as "hot bath," is the perfect accompaniment for spring vegetables -- and a marvelous alternative to heavy, creamy veggie dips.
The recipe is beautifully simple: 24 cloves of garlic, a couple of diced anchovies, and olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper, and that's it! It's a warm, piquant bath for a platter of crudités. Simmering the garlic softens its sharp flavors and brings out the sweetness, which makes a killer counterpoint to the anchovies' bracing bite. The warm olive oil and melted butter smooth out all the flavors.
You can use whatever vegetables you find fresh at the grocery store or farmers market. We opted for cauliflower, snap peas, green beans and an assortment of baby beets. (We actually couldn't find fresh snap peas, so we opted for frozen, which were fine but a bit soggy.) The recipe also suggests asparagus, baby zucchini and pattypan squash, but we weren't able to find any of the three when we went shopping, so we omitted them.
For those who are curious, this month's book club selection was Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. (It's very well-reviewed, but the group was very split on it.) Last month we read The Imperfectionists, which we loved. No selection yet for April, but if you have a recommendation, please let us know!
So keep this Bagna Cauda in mind the next time you host a book club. Or a baby shower. Or an anniversary party. Or a retirement luncheon. Or a post-christening brunch...
- 4 Servings
- PREP TIME: 40 minutes
- TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Assorted vegetables (such as sugar snap peas, haricots verts, cauliflower florets, baby zucchini and pattypan squash, asparagus spears, and baby golden and scarlet beets)
- 24 unpeeled large garlic cloves (about 4 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, oil drained, anchovies chopped
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Blanch sugar snap peas and haricots verts 1 minute. Using strainer, transfer vegetables to paper towels to drain. Blanch cauliflower florets 2 minutes; blanch zucchini, pattypan squash, and asparagus spears 3 minutes. Cook baby beets in same pot of water until tender, about 15 minutes; cool, peel, and cut beets in half.
- Simmer garlic cloves in medium saucepan of salted water until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel. Place garlic in shallow bowl; mash with back of fork until smooth. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add anchovies and stir 1 minute. Add garlic, then whisk in olive oil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes, whisking occasionally (sauce may separate). Season with salt and pepper; serve dip with vegetables.