Recipes for ‘tonnato’ sauce with roasted pork, and green beans and roasted red peppers with ‘tonnato’ sauce

The Italian dressing made with tuna and lemon, tastes like summer. Serve it oversliced tomatoes or hard-cooked eggs, roasted potatoes or cauliflower, or grilled fish or meats — just to name a few possibilities.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty
Cold pork “tonnato” and a simple salad make an elegant outdoor lunch or dinner.
Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty


TIP To thicken the sauce, add olive oil in a thin trickle and with the food processor’s motor running.

Makes about 1 ½ cups

 1 5-ounce can olive oil-packed tuna (not drained)

4 anchovy fillets

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 to 4 tablespoons chicken broth or water

In a food processor, puree the tuna (with packing oil), anchovies, capers, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper until very smooth. With the feed tube open and the motor running, slowly trickle in the oil, processing until the mixture thickens. Trickle in the broth in the same manner, processing until mixture is thick but pourable. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Scrape into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.



Follow the recipe for Tonnato Sauce, making the following changes:


1) Add 1 minced shallot, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce to the food processor with the tuna and the remaining ingredients.

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2) Reduce the broth or water to 2 tablespoons.



Serves 6

In Italy, tonnato sauce is traditionally used to dress thin slices of cold poached veal, but it’s also excellent with pork or white-meat chicken or turkey.

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

2½ pounds boneless pork loin roast

1 tablespoon neutral oil

1½ cups tonnato sauce

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Capers, drained, for garnish

Lemon slices, for garnish 

With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1½ teaspoons salt, ¾ teaspoon pepper, and the thyme. Dry the pork with paper towels, tie into neat cylinder with kitchen twine at 1½-inch intervals, and rub all over with the salt-thyme mixture.


In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until just beginning to smoke. Brown the pork well all over, about 12 minutes total. Place the pan in the oven and roast until center of the meat reaches 135 to 140 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer roast to carving board, cover loosely with foil (temperature should increase to about 150 degrees), then cool until just warm.

Cut off twine and cut the pork into ½-inch slices. Pour about 1/3 cup tonnato sauce on a large serving platter and arrange a layer of pork slices over the sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add more sauce. Repeat layers as needed, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 and up to 24 hours. Serve sprinkled with parsley and capers, and with lemon slices on the plate.



Serves 6

3 medium red bell peppers

Salt and black pepper

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup tonnato sauce

2 tablespoons minced red onion 

Set the broiler rack about 3 or 4 inches below the heating element and heat the broiler. Cut the bell peppers into wide, flat planks and broil skin side up on a baking sheet until the skin is charred and slightly puffed, about 13 minutes total (rotate the pan halfway through). Place the charred peppers in a bowl and cover tightly to steam loose the skins. Peel and slice into ½-inch strips.


Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. In a pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and the green beans, and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain beans and immediately dump into ice water. Drain beans again and spread to dry on a kitchen towel.

In the now-empty pot over medium heat, heat the oil and garlic until fragrant and garlic barely sizzles, about 2½ minutes. Add the green beans and saute until warmed through, about 4 minutes longer. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, arrange in the center of a serving platter, and surround with the bell peppers. Drizzle with tonnato sauce (thinned with a teaspoon of water, if necessary), sprinkle with onion, and serve.

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