This salad gives me a big dilemma. Honestly, I can’t decide whether it’s more pretty or more delish. (“Less filling!” “Tastes great!”) But I do know it’s one of the best recipes I’ve come across in a long time.
I had seen it on Food52, Amanda Hesser’s website, over a month ago, printed it immediately and stashed it in my recipe binder. And then I promptly forgot about it. Last weekend, I was flipping through the binder for my go-to spaghetti with clams recipe, and there was the Bagna Cauda Salad, staring me in the face. Hmmm, I thought, what could be bad about adding a nice crunchy salad dish to our garlicky pasta dinner?
Bagna cauda (which translates as “hot bath”) is a warm Italian dipping sauce for raw veggies. It’s typically made with garlic, anchovies, and olive oil, and in this recipe, which was inspired by a salad served at Mario Batali’s mindblowing Italian marketplace, Eataly (one of my favorite places to kill an hour or two in the city), the bagna cauda includes some lemon juice and serves as a light dressing for the salad rather than a dip.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to give your mandoline a workout, you’ve found it. You’re making translucent slices of all kinds of colorful veggies, including things I’d never thought of eating raw, like turnips, beets, brussels sprouts, and butternut squash. But they’re each so delicately thin and flavorful, it makes for a unique salad. Each lovely vegetable gets to shine, and you can really savor the essence that you don’t get to appreciate when it’s cooked or overly embellished. It’s like gathering a bunch of talented studio musicians to play in a cool pop-up band, and giving each one a featured solo.
Give it a try as a change-up to the run-of-the-mill lettuce-pepper-cuke salad, or dream about a sunny day not too far in the future when you can pack it up for a picnic.