From A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider (Artisan, 2001).
© 2001 by Sally Schneider. All rights reserved.

Bagna cauda, literally, "warm bath," is the classic Italian dip for raw vegetables and bread. It is a warm infused oil made with the staple ingredients of the peasant kitchens in which it evolved: olive oil, butter, garlic, and anchovies. It is utterly elemental, satisfying, and caloric. In this bagna cauda-inspired version, I have used traditional ingredients to make an intensely flavored olive oil, which I then boil with broth to carry those flavors further, to use less oil.

You can use this versatile sauce to dress cooked and raw vegetables, such as potatoes, asparagus, fennel, and peppers. It tempers the sharp qualities of cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. It is especially delicious on the unusual chicory from Italy called puntarella, becoming increasingly available here, served sliced as a salad. You can even use it as a sauce for linguine or spaghetti. Or wilt fresh greens, such as beet greens, spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard, in it: Figure on 1 tablespoon sauce for each 2 cups of cleaned dried greens, and quickly toss together in a skillet over high heat.

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2 ounces oil-packed anchovies (about 10), drained, patted dry, and finely chopped or mashed

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried savory

  • 1/4 cup unsalted homemade or canned low-sodium chicken broth

  • Up to 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, to taste

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a small heavy saucepan, heat the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the anchovies and savory and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the broth, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, or until the sauce is emulsified. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

In advance: The sauce can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat gently before serving, if desired.