Lemon Bagna Càuda is one of the tastiest sauces for asparagus. This simple sauce made with crème fraîche, lemon, olive oil, garlic and anchovies is the perfect alternative to sauce Hollandaise. It’s incredibly flavourful, making it the perfect accompaniment to green or white asparagus, whether roasted in oven or steamed on the stovetop. It’s inspired by a traditional northern Italian dipping sauce called “bagna cauda”.
What is Bagna Cauda?
Originating from the Piedmont region of Italy, bagna cauda translates to “warm bath” and is a bold flavoured dipping sauce that is made from olive oil, garlic and anchovies. It served bubbling hot in a fojòt, a small pot heated with a candle and raw and cooked vegetables are dipped in the sauce, similar to Swiss fondue. It sometimes also made with milk or cream for a little extra creamy richness. For a modern twist, lead of chef and food writer David Tanis adds a dollop of crème fraîche to his. This asparagus dressing recipe is inspired and adapted from his bagna cauda recipe and is terrific with either green or white asparagus.
The perfect sauce for asparagus – whether green or white
This creamy sauce for asparagus is a delicious new way to enjoy either green or white asparagus. It’s easy to make and is a great alternative to classic hollandaise sauce. When serving this sauce with green asparagus, I like to steam the asparagus in a skillet and enjoy it crisp-tender. It’s bright green colour is preserved and it has a fresh taste . On the other hand, when serving the sauce with white asparagus, my absolute favourite cooking method is roasting it in the oven. It’s simply fabulous and pairs perfectly with this creamy lemon bagna cauda sauce.
Steaming green asparagus
You can either blanch it in boiling water, use a steamer basket, or simply steam it in a skillet with a little water. I prefer to go for the skillet method as it takes mere minutes and is super easy. Just add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and let steam for a few minutes, until al dente. Voila. So easy.
Roasting white asparagus
Roasting white asparagus brings out its absolute best flavor! Plus it’s super easy. Simply toss the trimmed and peeled white asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean-up), careful not crowd and in the oven they go. Roast on the middle oven rack for 15 minutes, then turn over the spears and roast for another 10-15 minutes, until the asparagus has reached the desired tenderness. So easy, so delicious!
Looking for other delicious sauces for asparagus?
Try one of these delicious asparagus recipes:
- Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Truffle Vinaigrette
- Asparagus with Lemon Butter & Parsley Breadcrumbs
- Roasted White Asparagus with Tahini-Lemon Sauce
Asparagus with Bagna Cauda Sauce
For the dressing:
- 4 anchovy fillets, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 75 g crème fraîche
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
For the asparagus:
- 800 g white asparagus, woody ends trimmed, stems peeled
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- handful raw almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 400˚ F / 200°C (180°C fan-assisted) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the asparagus on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the preheated oven and roast until asparagus is tender and lightly browned on the tips, about 25-30 minutes, turning the spears halfway through (cooking time depends on the thickness of the spears and how tender you like your asparagus).
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place the anchovies and garlic in a small saucepan, add olive oil and simmer over medium heat, without browning, for 2 minutes, until anchovies dissolve. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in crème fraîche and lemon juice. Set aside to cool.
Transfer the roasted asparagus to a serving plate and drizzle 4 tablespoons of the dressing over the asparagus and garnish with almonds. Serve the remaining dressing on the side. Enjoy!
If using green asparagus, it tastes great steamed and served with the lemon bagna càuda sauce. It's also simple to prepare:
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add asparagus. Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and let steam for 3 to 5 minutes, or until asparagus is tender (can easily be pierced with a knife) but still crisp and bright green.
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