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in the kitchen with: jennifer martine’s bagna cauda

by Kristina Gill

Originally from lower Piedmont, Bagna Càuda is usually a recipe for autumn, to be enjoyed with the harvest of grapes for wine. But because I will be on my way to the southern hemisphere as this posts, I thought this week would be perfect for photographer Jennifer Martiné’s recipe, in honor of everyone who is in the middle of winter. However, there’s no reason why you can’t try this in the summer, with the great, fresh vegetables available. My favorite part of Bagna Càuda is raking my vegetable slices across the bottom of the pot to get the anchovies that, together with the garlic, have become a cream. Don’t let the idea of “anchovies” put you off, though — it’s not fishy at all, just wonderfully salty! — Kristina

About Jennifer: Jennifer Martiné is a food and lifestyle photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, Tyler, their one-year-old son, Quentin, and their dog, Miles. Her recent publications include Lucid FoodJam It, Pickle It, Cure It; and the James Beard Award-winning Salted, all from Ten Speed Press. A couple new cookbooks due out this year featuring Jennifer’s work include Food Network star Marcella Valladolid’s Mexican Made Easy, published by Clarkson Potter, and Bryant Terry’s newest book The Inspired Vegan, published by DaCapo. Her work is also frequently seen in magazines such as Sunset and Food Arts.

*Styling by Dani Fisher

The full recipe continues after the jump…

Bagna Càuda
Serves 4–6


  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small can of anchovies (14 ct.)
  • a selection of your favorite raw vegetables, cut into thin slices



Drain the anchovies and pat them dry. Remove the center of the garlic and slice it very thin. Using two tablespoons of olive oil and a few of the butter, cook the garlic slices on low heat, stirring when necessary to ensure they do not brown or take color. You should cook the garlic until it becomes very soft and falls apart, forming a soft white cream. Add the anchovies and the remaining butter and oil, and cook over a low flame until the anchovies have also fallen apart.

In Italy, this dish is usually served with a little terracotta pot that has a candle or flame underneath to keep it warm while you eat.

Arrange your favorite veggies. Though the recipe uses raw vegetables, I give some of them, like the carrots or asparagus, a quick steam. The artichokes are obviously steamed through. But everything else is served raw.

Why Jennifer Chose This Recipe
My husband and I love to entertain, and we love Italian food, so this dish achieves both of those things. It is incredibly simple and easy to make, yet people are always amazed at its rich, deep, complex flavor. I think a lot of people want to eat more vegetables but can sometimes be intimidated with what to do with them. This dish is the perfect answer; it’s easy for any level of cook and will always impress your guests!

Portrait by Michelle Warren Photography

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  • we make bagna-cauda all of the time. it’s a special treat that our daughters ask more and we eat it we slices of baguettes. the anchovies break down while they are getting hot. it is so good, you have to try it just once and then you will be hooked

  • I’m so surprised! Bagna caoda is known also outside Piemonte?!
    [Look, I write “caoda” with an O because in piedmontese the O is pronunced U].

    I love bagna caoda, but in there isn’t butter in the original recipe. Just olive oil, garlic and anchovies.
    I’m so glad you like it! Beautiful pictures :)

  • Lovely recipe, and beautiful photos. Interesting note re the olive oil and butter. Jen, where did your recipe come from and have you tried it sans butter?

  • I grew up eating this regularly – my grandmother was from the Piemonte region and she brought her recipe with her. I stopped eating it when I started dating – for obvious reasons!
    We would dip vegetables and capture drippings on Italian bread slices – then take occasional bites from the bread. Mmm, delicious!

  • more proof that the simple food(s) are often the best. this isn’t something we would normally see in the midwest but we have gorgeous veggies this time of year, so plan to try it soon. the really pretty photos show us how to serve it properly & encourage us to always have fun with food & try new things – i am already imagining what Bagna Cauda is gonna taste like! yum

  • Can’t wait to try it. Going to the cupboard now to see if I have anchovies. Great photos, Jennifer.

  • These are amazing images! I want to eat the screen… great work Jen and we’ll definitely try the recipe!

  • Thanks for all the great comments! This recipe is from my father-in-law. There are several variations, some that are all oil, some all butter and even some that include cream. I like the richness that the butter adds. It’s definitely addictive.

    Dianna-I found the bag at a market in Mauritius many years ago, when I was a photographers assistant, traveling with the ever-so-talented Lisa Linder.

  • I make a version of this with plenty of lemon juice as a pasta sauce. The NYTimes had an article this weekend with pasta tossed with arugula and pretty much this as the sauce. It’s excellent

  • I am also really happy to see this recipe is being appreciated outside Piemont and Nice region where I am from! but we do it without butter: olive oil, garlic and anchovies only! Cheers from a niçoise girl in Brussels, Barbara

  • Gorgeous photos Jennifer!! I cant wait to try that recipe. Could your family possibly be any cuter?

  • I have never tried this recipe but the layout makes it something I would try. The whole page is done with a nice touch and an eye for detail! Very appealing to the eye and the senses-

  • My family has an annual party that revolves around bagna, they’ve been doing it long before I was born. Contrary to some of the other folks here, we don’t use any olive oil. It’s always been garlic, butter, and anchovies served with fresh raw vegetables and a slice of fresh Italian bread as a plate. At the end of several hours of eating, we usually cook eggs and shrimp directly in the bagna and eat the eggs on the same slice of plate bread that you’ve been holding onto all day.
    What I have been told for the last 30-something years is that when you add olive oil it’s called bagnette(sp?), but my family has been out of Piedmont for 80 some odd years so we may have just made all of it up. I do love tradition.

  • oh, I love bagna cauda! We’ll say, “how about a hot bath tonight?” When served in individual pots, when the veggies are finished we also crack an egg into it. The grand finale! Yum. Beautiful photos, btw

  • Mike and Janie,

    Thanks for your personal stories! I love the stories which accompany food, and the variations to recipes. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy working on the ITKW column. It gives us a chance to see how and why people enjoy their food.


  • I couldn’t believe when I saw this photograph on design sponge. I had this at a party26 years ago (that’s correct, 26 years ago). I asked the hostess what it was & she told me aioli. Thank you for playing but that answer was incorrect. I have told my daughter if she ever met an Italian ( she travels) to describeit & find out what it was called. I gave her an accurate description. NO LUCK. & THEN I open an email & there it is. I was so excited my daughter thought I had won the lottery. Of course then she says’Why didn’t you just Google the ingredients. God give me strength. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I make this for everyone & they all take the recipe. See, if you are patient, it will come (But 26 years.) Good Grief.

  • Oh, bagna cauda! We just had some over the weekend. My family is originally from the Piedmont region – Volpiano, near Turin, to be exact. We have never made it with olive oil, though – just the butter, garlic, and anchovies. We tried dipping shrimp in it this time around and it was yummy! We also dip chicken, too, so it can really be a complete meal with the vegetables. I especially love cauliflower in it. YUM!!! Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we also made our family’s homemade Italian salami. We raised the pig, mixed the meat and spices, and made them into sausage links with the same filler that my great-grandparents used. I love my Italian family’s traditions!!!

  • I love the idea of oil, garlic and anchovies melting together into a creamy, gooey mess. But I was wondering, can you make a Bagna Cauda/Caoda with fresh anchovies or small sardines simmered in the oil/garlic combo until the fish and the garlic breakdown? Has anyone tried this?