Tuna Tartine Bites with Warm Bagna Cauda

I love open-faced sandwiches, but they are messy suckers.  The toppings can spill off your bread, onto the plate, onto your lap, into your fingernails, etc.  So for this Fiesta Friday I made a Tuna Tartine on bread that’s been pressed/fried in a pan of warm garlicky lemon/anchovy dressing, then neatly cut up into bite-sized pieces.  It’s better than crostini or bruschetta because you get less crunch dry crust and more dressing soaked bread.

Warning:  the Bagna Cauding dressing is one of the top 5 most delicious things I have ever made . . . once you make it you will want to put it on everything!

A benefit to this recipe is that you learn a great technique/concept that is endlessly adaptable to what you have on hand:  mash up a fresh herby, garlicky dressing (or a gingery miso dressing, or a peppery red wine shallot vinaigrette), heat it up, dunk bread (or english muffin, tortilla, smashed halved baked potato or sweet potato, or pour over blanched veggies like broccoli or cauliflower) and fry!  Pour remaining hot dressing over greens/rest of your dish.  Yum!

A note on the ingredients:  I know it seems like a lot of butter, but read up!  I am not an evangelist but after a lot of research and reading, I am convinced that pastured, grass-fed, raw and cultured butter is not only not bad for you, but actually good for you.  We actually go through 2 lbs of raw cultured grass fed butter a week and since incorporating more grass fed butter, fermented and cultured foods (kefir, raw yogurt, sauerkraut, sourdough breads, sprouted or soaked grains), pastured and sustainably raised meats, and zilching out the processed foods, I have never felt better.  I feel good about supporting the smaller scale farmers; my blood tests and other health markers are downright great; and, I have even-keeled moods & energy throughout the day.

But hey, this isn’t a health blog and food choices are personal.  Plus, sometimes I think what we think we know now . . . . we may not agree is correct 100 years from now . . . who knows? Experiment and find what works for you within your values and budget and priorities.

Of prime importance to me is delicious, slightly playful, sometimes decadent food that’s made with love and joy, to be enjoyed with family, friends, even strangers.  Or alone with your feet up on the couch! Home cooked food is a potent bond that connects us to our humanity.  Yikes, how did I get here (here) from there (the beginning of this recipe)? Onward . . .

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings, plus extra dressing)

Bagna Cauda Dressing:

  • 2 to 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 4 3-inch-long salt-packed anchovies, rinsed well (that’s important!), backbones removed, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest

  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

  • Kosher salt, to taste


  • 2 cans imported tuna (in olive oil)

  • 1 Tbsp chopped dill

  • 1 Tbsp capers

  • 1 Tbsp celery chopped fine

  • 1 Tbsp chopped preserved lemon

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (or you can use olive oil or vegannaise)

  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper

  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • 4 very large slices whole grain bread, (I used my Sprouted Farro Porridge Bread) preferebly from boule shaped bread, dunked into Bagna Cauda on both sides briefly


Make Bagna Cauda:

  1. Combine anchovies and garlic in a mortar and pestle and pulverize into a smooth paste.

  2. Transfer the paste to a small saucepan. Add the butter and olive oil and bring to a simmer over low heat. Continue simmering for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and more lemon juice.

Anchovies and Garlic
Anchovies and Garlic
  1. Pulverized
    Into the Pan with Butter and Olive Oil
    Into the Pan with Butter and Olive Oil
    It's Starting to Smell Delicious
    It’s Starting to Smell Delicious  

Make Tuna:

Make Tuna:

1.  Mix tuna with mayonnaise, salt and pepper and Alelppo pepper.  Mix      well.

2.  Mix all other ingredients into tuna with a fork, mashing gently with          the back of a fork until roughly incorporated.

Tuna, Mayo, Aleppo & Salt & Pepper
Tuna, Mayo, Aleppo & Salt & Pepper

Celery, Preserved Lemon, Dill and Capers
Celery, Preserved Lemon, Dill and Capers

Make Tartine Bites:

  1. Place bagna cauda in cast iron skillet.  Dunk slices into dressing and press into both sides of bread.  Remove bread and let soak a couple minutes.  Reserve bagna cauda dressing.

  2. Saute bread slices in 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat for a minute on each side.

  3. Remove bread from skillet and let cool for a minute or two. Mound tuna mixture onto bread.  Pat down & compact tuna mixture with the back of a spoon and make sure tuna mixture holds together well and is not too loosely arranged on bread.

  4. Place a piece of parchment paper over the bread and slice into sections.  Remove parchment paper and add pieces of egg, avocado, radish if you like.

  5. Gently heat remaining bagna cauda dressing until warm.  Pour remaining dressing over the top of bread bites.

Almost There
Almost There
Cutting Up
Cutting Up
Ready to Eat!
Ready to Eat!

21 thoughts on “Tuna Tartine Bites with Warm Bagna Cauda

Add yours

      1. We’ve all had those issues with food before 🙂 An open window and a little pot of simmering lemon, rosemary and vanilla will fix it fast!

  1. HI Sue, this was a sweet post. These entries you are posting are creating a wonderful book for you. Have you ever thought of sharing your collection of posts with a book publisher so as to inquire if they might be “book worthy”? Even so, these posts are extremely well written and enjoyable to read. You love your cooking and your sharing of your beautiful food creations. Keep up the great work…very good karma you are putting out there!

  2. Oh my, this sounds like something I would like to make for my next party! I have never made the bagna cauda before, but your description really makes me want to try it!

  3. You know something strange? I’m not big on fish but I’ve had bagna cauda more than a few times now, even made it myself once, and I liked it! Tuna not so much, but I’m keeping an open mind and will give it a try. Besides, I still have weeks of no-meat Fridays. Thank you, Sue. You continue to inspire! 🙂

    1. I don’t really like fish either unless it’s disguised — panko, fish and chips, fish tacos, lobster bisque . . . you get the picture. And my husband ALWAYS says “no anchovies,” when he orders caesar dressing . . . . however last night when the smells woke him up (I do all my messy wizardry when he’s sleeping) he had a bite (I didn’t tell him anchovies were in there) and I literally had to drag him back to bed. But think about it .. . . add a stick of butter to anything and it’ll taste good!!!!

  4. I love savory little bites like this! What an elegant appetizer to serve when friends come over, or even just as a fancy pre-dinner bite! Lovely.

    1. Why thank you! And it was delicious, really delicious. I keep the leftover dressing at room temp for a few days in a shallow pan, covered, and we just keep dipping.

  5. This looks so good, Sue. I love anchovies! And butter! I’m with you on the grass-fed and sustainably raised food products. Good for us, good for the earth. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! 🙂

  6. It looks so tasty! I love your point of view about the butter and everything 🙂 And you are right, food taste is personal :p But I think everyone would like this recipe!

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