When you think Italian food, you might not think of dips - but these recipes are steeped in tradition.
In Italy, snacks are more than just little bites to curb hunger - they're a ritual. Whether it's aperitivo hour (the time when tasty nibbles are served alongside pre-dinner cocktails) or the first antipasti course of a meal, these snacks are part of the Italian dining landscape. When we think Italian snacking, we think cheese, salami, giardiniera, olives and beyond - dips and chips aren't exactly the first thing that come to mind.
However, there are quite a few Italian dips (some of which do double-duty as spreads, crostini toppers and beyond) that all individually come with their own ritual. Whether it's the autumnal tradition of Bagna Cauda, the symbol of the cultural melting pot that is Caponata and more, these dips all play their part in Italian culture.
Eggplant caponata is often considered the "Italian version of Ratatouille," but it's so much more. This Sicilian dish has loads of cultural influences due to their occupations of over the ages, such as Greek, Arab and Spanish. The result is a bright and flavorful dish that can be used as a spread, a side, a dip and beyond.
While the name tapenade and the popularization of this dip are from Provencal France, the ingredients in the recipe are so ubiquitous in Italian cuisine that it's believed to have existed in Italy long before it got its name. Giada's recipe is as simple as it gets - black olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a bit of olive oil to finish is all it takes to make this simple dip.
Garlic lovers, look no further. A centuries-old dish from the wine country of the Piedmont region, home of Barolo, bagna cauda (literally "hot bath") is an autumn tradition that’s equal parts fondue party and harvest celebration.
Another dip that does double duty, this Roman artichoke "cream" can be used in a myriad of ways. In Rome, artichokes are a prized product, and they're prepared in a huge variety of ways to celebrate the vegetable. This decadent spread is just artichokes, oil, a touch of vinegar and salt - and the result is absolutely delicious.
This is as positively simple as a dip can get! Pinzimonio is comprised of olive oil and salt to taste - that's it. Giada likes to put a bit of a spin on the flavored oil by using Dario Cecchini's Tuscan salt blend, with aromatic ingredients that perfume the oil even more and make it an absolutely delicious, simple dip that pairs perfectly with raw veggies.