Basically a hot dipping sauce for chunks of fresh vegetables, Bagna Cauda also lends itself to being used as a dressing for all sorts of greens. For arugula, just grab a few leaves with your fingers, swish them into the sauce, and pop into your mouth. Endive and Romaine lettuce leaves are great because they can hold more sauce than broccoli or cauliflower flowerets.
One 2-ounce can flat anchovies in olive oil or 3 salt-packed whole anchovies
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
Salt to taste
Vegetables of your choice such as Belgian endive leaves, bell pepper strips, celery, halved radishes, cauliflower and broccoli flowerets, green onions, arugula, cucumber, Romaine leaves.
If using canned anchovies, drain well, pat excess oil off filets with paper towels and chop finely. If using salt-packed anchovies, you’ll have to remove their bones. Split the fish down their backs and lift the fillets off their skeleton. Rinse well under running tap water to remove excess salt and pat dry with paper towels. Chop finely.
If you have a mortar and pestle, grind the chopped anchovies and garlic together to make a paste. Or just smear the chopped garlic and anchovies together on a board with the blade of a knife to make a paste.
Put the olive oil and butter into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the anchovies and garlic and let them melt into the butter and oil slowly, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste. Add more lemon juice if you feel the sauce needs it and salt to taste.
To serve, transfer the hot sauce to a heated bowl and set it in the center of a large platter surrounded with the vegetables you’ve chosen. Eat as soon as possible.
• Makes 6 servings.