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Vitello Tonnato

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Servings: 4 servings


  • 800 gr eye round
  • 250 gr tuna canned in olive oil
  • 6 fillets of anchovies those usually sold in a small jar or can, salt cured and preserved in olive oil
  • 3 boiled egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon capers chopped small
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 liter dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon white wine viegar
  • 1/2 glass EVOO
  • salt q.b.
  • 250 gr homemade mayonnaise optional


For the meat

  • Regardless to the type of sauce, with or without mayo, you decide to use, the veal has to be prepared as follows:
  • Place the eye round in a large bowl and marinate it for a full day with the white wine, the chopped carrot and celery stalk, the bay leaves and sage. Once the marinating time has passed, move the veal into a saucepan deep enough to hold the meat, the filtered marinade and enough water to entirely cover the meat itself.
  • Cook the eye round on low fire for one to two hours, until the cooking broth will reduce to about 1/2 litre of liquid. Remove the meat from the pan, let it cool and slice it very thinly.

For the Traditional Sauce

  • The traditional sauce for vitello tonnato is made without mayonnaise: this is how the original recipe was created and it is the one we propose as main version here, too:
  • Place the boiled egg yolks, anchovies and the tuna drained of its oil in a mixer. Mix well, until it gets creamy, then add the capers, the vinegar, the lemon juice and the 1/2 glass of olive oil. Stir well, until the sauce is homogeneous and add some of the meat's cooking broth if you find it too dry. its consistency should be that of homemade mayonnaise: creamy, yet not runny.
  • Spread over the thinly sliced veal and let cool in the fridge for an hour before serving, to let all the flavors combine with one another.

For the Mayonnaise Based Sauce

  • As we said above, Vitello Tonnato is a traditional recipe, which has been changed and modified throughout the decades. If the cooking method for the veal remains very much the same, differences are easily encountered when it comes to the sauce. The most common alternative to the traditional sauce, which is made with a base of boiled egg yolks, is that made with mayonnaise instead.
  • Here is a basic recipe for it:
  • In a mixer, blend together the tuna, the capers and the anchovies. If the mixture is too dry, you can add a tablespoon or two of the veal's cooking broth. Once it is smooth, add 250 gr of mayonnaise and mix well with a spoon. VoilĂ : your mayo based salsa tonnata is ready.
  • Ideally, you should prepare the mayonnaise yourself, as nothing tastes as good as homemade mayo! In alternative, make sure to pick high quality mayonnaise from the store, as a bad mayo could ruin the final result!


Vitello Tonnato is lovely served with fresh white wines like Arneis. It is usually considered a starter, but many, especially in the Summer, like to have it as a main dish.
Make sure to have good, fresh bread: the "salsa tonnata" is to die for with it!