Warm Lionfish Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing

In the Piedmont region of Italy, bagna cauda (translated as “hot bath”) is typically served as a dip for vegetables. But it also pairs amazingly well with fresh fish.

Bagna Cauda dressing

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 pieces anchovy fillets, minced
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers juice (from capers jar)
  • 1 tablespoon minced capers
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes


  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, medium dice
  • 1 small bulb fennel, sliced thin
  • 1 cup cooked green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh radish, sliced thin
  • 1 cup toasted croutons
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled, medium dice


  • 4 ounces canola oil
  • 12, 2 ounce pieces lionfish fillets
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • Fresh lemon wedges

Combine the garlic and anchovy fillets in a food processor or blender and purée to a smooth paste.

Alternatively, mash to a paste using a mortar and pestle, or in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, over low heat, combine butter and extra virgin olive oil.

Add the garlic anchovy paste.

When the butter is melted with the extra virgin olive oil, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, capers juice, minced capers and red pepper flakes.

Whisk until all the ingredients are combined.

Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Set aside and keep warm.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, green beans, radish, croutons and hard boiled eggs.

Set aside ready for plating.


Heat the canola oil in a medium sauté pan.

Season the lionfish fillets with the salt and pepper and lightly dredge in all purpose flour then shake off the excess flour.

When the oil is hot, carefully place the lionfish in the sauté pan and cook for 1 minute on one side and 30 seconds on the other side.

Remove from the pan and drain on a plate with paper towel.

Keep the lionfish fillets warm in 250 F oven until ready to assemble salad.


Add the bagna cauda dressing to the salad ingredients and toss lightly to make sure the salad is dressed properly.

Divide the salad onto 4 plates.

Top each with the lionfish.

Add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and serve immediately.

Lightly fried and served with a flavorful salad is the perfect way to cook up this invasive species.

The bagna cauda dressing, literally translated as “hot bath,” originates from northern Italy where traditionally it is used as a dip for vegetables.

Here it is used as a dressing, adding a flavorful kick to the salad, which pairs perfectly with the flaky, buttery lionfish.