Ever heard of Vittelo Tonnato? It’s a dish from Northern Italy, very popular in ’80’s. Consisting of a creamy mayonnaise-like sauce flavoured with tuna and anchovies, served with cold sliced veal. It may sound odd to you but this combination works tremendously well.
The dish was born thanks to a particularly creative chef who wanted to challenge conventions by combining fish with meat. Something we are very familiar with these days as ‘Surf & Turf’ is often found on restaurant menus.
No veal in my version of this Piedmontese dish, however it does work incredibly well with pork tenderloin, chicken and turkey, if meat is your preference. I’m sticking with Roasted Vegetables and Jammy Eggs.
This sauce is like a thin mayonnaise and works best made in a food processor. It’s a good idea to start with ingredients at room temperature, it helps them to emulsify.
Begin with the egg yolks, dijon, anchovies, garlic and a tablespoon of lemon juice, blend until smooth, then drizzle in the olive oil, little, by little, in a steady stream. Once you have a smooth sauce, the consistency of double cream, add the tuna, the rest of the lemon juice and blend until smooth. Add pepper and cayenne to taste, you won’t need to add any salt as the anchovies provide plenty. Now to decide the vegetable selection….
So many vegetables are suited to this dish. I like to roast or char them first, for the simple reason I like the slightly bitter flavour with the tonnato sauce.
Here are a few suggestions:
Long stem broccoli, leeks, aubergine, Romano pepper, radish, courgette, potato, French beans.
And salad Leaves:
Radicchio, endive, charred little gem and butterhead lettuce.
And not forgetting, beautiful, big, fat and juicy beef tomatoes in the summer, scrumptious!
- 1 tinned tuna steak in olive oil sustainably sourced, drained weight 150g
- 3-4 anchovy fillets
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- ½ lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 large egg yolks free range
- 120 ml olive oil
- pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper
- 1½ Tbls capers
Suggested Vegetables – Roasted or charred
- Leeks, French beans, diced sautéd potatoes, long-stem broccoli, radish.
- Radicchio, red endive, griddled baby gem
- Semi-hard boiled egg
- Place the egg yolks, Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, garlic and the anchovies into a food processor, blitz until smooth, and then add the olive oil in a thin steady stream. Finally, add the tuna and continue to process until smooth. Add freshly ground pepper and cayenne to taste.
- As a main dish, add a pool of tonnato to a large plate, topped with charred vegetables, jammy eggs and a sprinkling of capers.
- Alternatively as a side, place charred or roasted vegetables on a large plate and drizzle over the tonnato sauce.
- Works well as a side dish i.e. Steam French beans, then toss in olive oil in a shallow pan, drizzle over the tonnato sauce. Serve with chicken or pork.
- Keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.