Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Dip

Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Dip

This classic Italian dish is basically tuna mayonnaise

Tuna + mayo? Primo flavor pair.

This classic recipe makes it even better with capers and anchovies. Then smoothes the mixture into a velvety sauce.

Tonnato sauce is great on veal (and other meats, too). If you thicken it a bit, it turns into an excellent dip for crudités or chips.

Mayo-nificient.


Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Dip

Recipe: Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Dip

This sauce plays a starring role in Vitello tonnato (cold sliced roast veal with tonnato sauce), a classic Italian dish. But tonnato sauce also pairs beautifully with roast pork or poultry.

For this post, we focus on how to make the basic sauce (or dip). But watch this space: In an upcoming post, we’ll use tonnato sauce as an ingredient in a dish.

To make tonnato sauce, you first make mayonnaise (or just use commercial jarred mayo, which is what we’re doing). Then add canned tuna, anchovies (or olives if you prefer), capers, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Whirl it all together in a food processor or blender. Done.

If you want to use tonnato sauce as a dip, go light on the olive oil. If sauce is your goal, keep adding olive oil until the mixture is thinned to your preferred consistency. (The pictures accompanying this post show the recipe prepared as a dip.) BTW, even if you thin it, this sauce should still be pretty thick. Pourable, but thick.

This recipe takes 5 to 10 minutes to prepare. You can use it immediately or refrigerate it first (we prefer a bit of chill on it).

Tonnato sauce will keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (see Notes)
  • 5- to 7-ounce can tuna packed in olive oil (no need to drain the olive oil)
  • 2 to 3 anchovy fillets (to taste; may substitute olives – see Notes)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons drained capers (to taste)
  • ~2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (depending on how thick you want the mixture to be)
  • salt to taste (very optional)
Procedure
  1. Add all the ingredients (except olive oil) to a mini food processor or a blender. Whirl until the ingredients are well incorporated (you want to achieve a fairly smooth consistency).
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil gradually (a couple tablespoons at a time) until it’s incorporated into the mixture. Add just enough olive oil to get the consistency you want.
  3. Taste. Add salt if necessary (we’re betting you won’t need any) and serve.
Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Dip

Notes
  • For this recipe, quantities are very much to taste. Our recipe is pretty standard, but feel free to play with quantities until the mixture tastes good to you. In particular, you may want to start with about half the amount of tuna that we specify, then add more to taste.
  • We don’t think this dish needs a garnish. But you could top it with some chopped parsley. Or maybe sprinkle on a few whole capers.
  • You won’t taste the anchovies in this dish (really). But if you can’t abide the idea of anchovies, just substitute some olives (we like to use black ones). Start with about a tablespoon.
  • We generally use oil-packed (not salt-packed) anchovies when we make this dish. A can of them contains more anchovies than you need for this recipe. Just reserve the rest for another use (they make a terrific garnish for Caesar Salad). 
  • When we use tuna packed in olive oil, we just pour the entire can into the food processor (Step 1) – we don’t bother to drain the tuna. 
  • We often use prepared mayonnaise in this dish because it’s easy. But tonnato sauce will taste better – and be more “authentic” – if you use Homemade Mayonnaise. Homemade mayo takes just a couple of minutes to make. If you’re planning to make your own mayo, just mix it in a food processor or blender, then add the other ingredients for tonnato sauce. BTW, if you go this route, we suggest using extra virgin olive oil to make the mayo. Your tonnato sauce will taste much better. 
  • When using prepared mayo for tonnato sauce, we make sure to use a full-flavored olive oil for the sauce. When using our own homemade mayo, we opt for a lighter-flavored olive oil both to make the mayo and once we get to the sauce-mixing stage. 
  • There are many variations on this recipe. We’ve seen versions that substitute canned salmon for tuna. Some cooks add a garlic clove. Others substitute yogurt or sour cream for some (or all) of the mayo. 
  • To use this recipe as a sauce, just spoon it over servings of cold, sliced meat. As noted above, the classic meat is veal. But it also works well with pork (or ham) and poultry. 
  • You could probably serve it over fish, too, though we haven’t tried that. Tonnato sauce with tuna, anyone? 
  • When using tonnato sauce as a dip, we like to serve it with sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks. Or potato chips. You can serve the dip in a large communal bowl or in small, individual ramekins. 
  • You can use tonnato sauce instead of mayo to change up some traditional mayo-based recipes. For instance, try combining tonnato sauce with chopped hard-boiled egg yolks to make stuffed eggs. Or maybe use it to make a summer pasta salad (recipe here).
Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce and Dip

Tunacious

“Tons of flavor in this dip,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “Or should I say tonnatos?”

“So we agree that this recipe is a keeper?” I said.

“Yup,” said Mrs K R. “It’s tunanimous.”

“As puns go, that was not very sofishticated,” I said.

“Puns are supposed to be terrible.” said Mrs K R. “Anchovy it yet?”

Nah. They still sound fishy to me.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Homemade Mayonnaise
Green Goddess Dip, Dressing, and Sauce
Tzatziki Dip, Sauce, and Dressing
Artichoke Dip with Cheddar Cheese
California Clam Dip
Shrimp Toast Dip
Jalapeño Black Bean Dip
Chicken and Black Bean Nacho Dip
Mediterranean White Bean Dip
Caesar Salad
Or check out the index for more

70 comments:

  1. I don't know what I enjoy more__the recipes or the puns.

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    1. Hi Anne, we like 'em both! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. This is so YUMMY! I love that it's keto friendly too. Pass the spoon over please :-))

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    1. Hi Angie, spoon coming your way! You'll definitely want to eat this by the spoonful. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. I need some now. Thanks for the laugh too.

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    1. Hi R, you DO need some now! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. In the good old days before raw eggs got scary, I used to make the classic veal tonnato. In the good old days, I could get a beautiful cut of veal which is now almost unobtainable because animal cruelty. In the good old days before the pandemic hit, I used to put out big bowls of dip and everyone could dip in for themselves. Oh! for the good old days!

    be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com.

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    1. Hi Mae, yeah, the good old days. Long gone, alas. I can sometimes get good veal roasts, but usually have to order it. And sometimes the butcher just can't get one. So I substitute pork, a lot -- it's gotten so lean that it's a pretty good substitute. Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Replies
    1. Hi Pam, it's incredibly good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. I always make this for last minute company when I have nothing in the house. Generally I always have a can of tuna to save the day. Love this version, John!

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    1. Hi Abbe, we almost always have the ingredients of this on hand. Tasty, and SO quick to make. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. This tuna dip sounds and looks delicious John...I have never it as a dip as I always make tuna salad sandwich...thanks for this awesome and simple recipe. Have a great rest of the week!

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    1. Hi Juliana, tuna is wonderful as a dip! Well worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Love this. I like the pairing with potato chips idea! I've made something similar, but served it on crostini. I like the dip idea.

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    1. Hi Mimi, crostini is a really good idea! And who can say "no" to potato chips? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Interesting! I have never tried adding tuna to a dip.

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    1. Hi Balvinder, sounds unusual, but it's really good! Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Tuna is one ingredient we have stocked at all times. This is a fabulous staple recipe for last minute guests or just hungry natives (ie; the boys) to keep them happy while you cook dinner.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, your boys would love this! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. I have never heard of tonnato sauce. I'm getting excited about trying it as a sandwich spread ;)

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    1. Hi Dahn, we like that idea! :- Thanks for the comment.

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  12. If there are two dishes for which I have been 'famous' for decades . . . well, they are osso buco and vitello tonnato. Altho' I am basically an Australasian cook still make both regularly. I rarely use mayonnaise but for this sauce I make it by hand at home :) ! Very satisfying ! Rarely use dips but this sauce can be delightful in so many ways, even with plain salad in rolled-up flatbreads . . . It is beyond me people dislike anchovies . . .I eat them for most breakfasts - OK the Baltic marinated kind, heads and all . . .

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    1. Hi Eha, vitello tonnato is wonderful! I haven't made it for a long time -- need to do that again. I've been making mayo in the blender for the last few years, and sometimes wonder why -- yes, it's a bit faster, but making it by hand doesn't really take that much longer (and cleanup is far easier!). Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Yum, such a classic combo of flavours!

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    1. Hi Natalia, good reason this is a classic! SO good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. You two are very clever, great puns. I love the look of this delicious dip, with some of my favourite flavours in it. The word "piquant" comes to mind in a very complimentary way. Thanks for sharing this one, lots of potential.

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    1. Hi Pauline, potential is definitely the word for this! Loads of different uses for it. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. YOU KNOW I am all about this life!!! These flavors and ingredients, RIGHT UP my fish-loving alley!

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    1. Hi GiGi, you should make this with salmon. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. i had a giggle at tuna with tuna sauce but why not? it would just be more tuna-ey! and that's a good thing. yum to this dish.

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    1. Hi Sherry, we definitely have to try this with tuna! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. Ohhh, This is something new (atleast for me) I have never seen any dip that has tuna. Definitely sharing this recipe with my friends :)

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    1. Hi Prya, your friends will thank you. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Homemade mayonnaise has been on my to do list for a long time. This recipe seems like the perfect time to try it.

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    1. Hi Laura, when you see how easy it is to make homemade mayo, you'll be making it all the time. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. We love vitello tonnato but have never been clever enough to think of it as a veggie dip. Love this. We would take leftovers and smear on bread. But using cucumbers and carrots is so much better. I wish I knew how to roast the veal just perfectly... someday.

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    1. Hi David, finding decent veal roast is a bit of a challenge for us -- our regular butchers often (usually) don't have it, so we have to order it. Then roasting it to a nice rosy pink IS also a bit of a challenge. So worth the trouble, though! Thanks for the comment.

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  20. I'll take this any day over regular onion dip! So good, especially with that briny note.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, that briny note is terrific! Thanks for the comment.

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  21. This is a must make for me. Don't think I've ever had it and it's such a fantastic blend of tasty ingredients. It's up next for an appetizer. :-)~ Valentina

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    1. Hi Valentina, you'll like this, I'll bet -- incredible flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Hello, I loved this post, I love gastronomy, I would very much like to try it. I didn't know your blog, it's great.

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    1. Hi YNSM, this is SO worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. This looks so good! I've never had tuna as a dip before, but it's perfect for some summer vegetables.

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    1. Hi Amy, this makes a great dip for raw veggies, and if you make it thinner, a great sauce over cooked veggies. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I would love to dip anything on that beauty, carrots, celery, cucumber, chips you name it

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    1. Hi Raymund, all of those are wonderful when dipped in this! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. I love how you pictured your dip with English cucumber slices. This is such a perfect and guilt free pairing with your savory tuna dip!

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    1. Hi Heidi, this is wonderful with cuke slices! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  26. yumm, I would spread this on a sandwich :). canned tuna is always in my kitchen.

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    1. Hi Nammi, we always have tuna on hand, too. It's so versatile and tasty! Thanks for the comment.

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  27. One of my very favorite sauces of all time, and a summer staple in our house. It's awesome on tomatoes too!

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    1. Hi Frank, gotta try this with tomatoes! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  28. I've made this. I've had this. I've loved this, and I'm particularly pleased to see you know how good it is with a potato chip. GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, this is awesome with potato chips! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. I've never heard of tonnato. Looks interesting and yes, how can one go wrong with tuna and mayo? :) Sounds like a great dip to me. Love the idea and using cucumber. Thanks!

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    1. Hi MJ, you really have to make this -- it's incredibly good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. Love the flavors! I love homemade mayo and the flavors in this must be just incredible!

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    1. Hi Kelly, it really does taste incredible. Definitely good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Replies
    1. Hi Dawn, it's terrific stuff. Definitely worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  32. I have never tried this before John, you've opened my eyes to a new treat to try this summer to snack on with veggies. :)

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    1. Hi Judy, this is SO good -- you'll like, I think. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. John, I must of missed this one. Great recipe and one we'll try. Now back to your Pasta Salad with Tonnato (Tuna) Sauce post. Thanks for the link back to this...

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    1. Hi Ron, you'll love this! Really great flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. This sounds super delicious John and I hope to make it soon once my kitchen is all finished. I love your puns and your recipes.

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, this is a wonderful dish. Redoing kitchens? Not so wonderful, alas. Thanks for the comment.

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  35. I made a similar sauce using cooked mussels and it was poured over pasta. We love tuna flavour so this dip sounds wonderful. Definitely going to give it a go during cocktails this summer.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Eva, mussels sound like a terrific idea instead of tuna in this dish. Terrific idea. :-) And thanks for the comment.

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