Monday, March 30, 2020

Tuna Sauce.

image from Zingermans, my favorite source for tinned fish
Everyone is making tuna salad these days.  From NYT's food editors, to my favorite chefs and bloggers. For good reasons, it's cheap and you probably have most of the ingredients in your [quarantine] pantry. Today I'm sharing my favorite way to enjoy that can of tuna, and it doesn't include a salad or a sandwich (although any leftovers would make a damn fine sandwich).

As with most food blogs, there's a back story to this recipe. I could tell you about my favorite neighborhood restaurant in Boston where I first fell in love with Vitello Tonnato, a traditional Italian recipe of cold sliced veal with tuna sauce. Or I might share how I ordered it several times a week while traveling in Italy last fall. My favorite memory of eating Vitello Tonnato is from our last night at Il Pellicano, on the edge of the Argentario coast. The veal was so tender it melted in my mouth, and the sauce was so creamy and elegant that I asked the chef for an extra side of sauce - which I proceeded to dip my bread in, and then finish with a spoon..... You get my point.

I am keenly aware that some people have an issue with veal. And even if you don't, veal isn't the easiest thing to find at a typcial grocer. Thankfully tonnato sauce is just as delicious served with pork. I prefer pork tenderloin, but it is equally as tasty on a chop. I've also been known to smear it on toasted bread as an aperitivo.
tuna sauce on grilled pork tenderloin
photo my own

tuna sauce on toasted sourdough - pairs beautifully w a negroni
(photo my own)

My favorite recipe is from Marcella Hazan, found in the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I've tweaked it a bit for efficiency (store bought mayo is fine ;).

Tuna Sauce


anchovy paste
a pantry MUST HAVE.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 seven ounce can of Tuna - preferably packed in olive oil, but water is ok.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste - unless you have fresh anchovies, in which case 5 will do.
1 garlic clove
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons capers  (rinsed thoroughly if packed in salt, otherwise drain from brine)


Put everything in a food processor, or high speed blender.  Process until you have a uniformly creamy sauce.  Taste for salt.

Transfer the sauce into a jar.  It will keep refridgerated for at least a week or so.

Prepare your pork to your preference.  Serve with a generous portion of sauce,  garnish with drizzle of oil, fresh parsley, and a lemon wedge.


  1. Grana Padano is an old raw milk Italian cheese that is very tempting. It has a flaky, salty, nutty interior, bound with somewhat dense, gold-like pendants. I can personally prove the mold that enhances Regigiano and Grana Padano two weeks later in my cheese drawer.