Bagna Cauda

A traditional fall and winter dish from the Piedmont area of Italy, this originally was made with only olive oil, anchovies and garlic, but these days some red pepper and sometimes rosemary is often included. Some recipes call for using 1 cup of oil and 1 stick of butter, instead of all oil, which of course makes a richer dish.

2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 anchovy fillets (no need to chop, as they will disintegrate when heated in the oil)
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 sprigs (about 4″) fresh rosemary (optional)
Raw vegetables for dipping: celery sticks, red and/or yellow bell pepper strips, carrot sticks, fennel strips, cherry tomatoes, small mushrooms (all chilled)
Steamed vegetables for dipping: asparagus spears, artichokes (trimmed with choke removed and sliced), broccoli, cauliflower (all chilled)
Crusty Italian style bread, sliced (not cubed), or focaccia, cut into 2″ squares

1. In a saucepan or metal fondue pot, heat 2 TBSP of the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring, until fragrant and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining oil, rosemary and red pepper flakes and lower the heat to low, and cook about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let stand for about 30 minutes.
2. Arrange the vegetables on a large platter and season lightly with salt. Reheat the bagna cauda over low heat until just warm. If you used a saucepan to cook it, transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm.
3. Serve immediately with long handled forks for dipping the vegetables into the sauce. Be sure to supply your guests with individual plates. The dipped vegetables can be hot and may need to cool a bit before eating!

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