Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Veal with tuna sauce
( Vitello tonnato )

Authentic Piedmontese recipe

Veal with tuna sauce (vitello tonnato) is a traditional Italian appetizer (Piedmont recipe) for your special menus or a tasty one-plate meal for your family. This is an easy-to-do recipe I learnt from my grandmother, born in Piedmont. So I've been making it at home since I was a child. It takes a long time even if active time isn't too much. You can prepare vitello tonnato some hours ahead. The wine to pair? white or red according to your menu. Read more details below.

difficulty: easy

time: 2 h 30 minutes

calories: 587 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 6

  • Boiling meat
  • 600g (1 1/3 pound) lean veal
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Coarse salt
  • Making sauce
  • 400g (14 ounces) tuna in olive oil, well drained
  • 250ml (1 cup) mayonnaise
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 tablespoon capers plus some others for garnishing
  • Some tablespoons meat broth
easy recipe
preparation: 30 minutes
plus cooling time
cooking: 2 hours
total: 2 h 30 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 587 (kcal) 30 % - 2458 (kJ)
Protein: 39.6 (g) 80 % GDA
Total fat: 47.5 (g) 68 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 0.4 (g) 1 % GDA
Sugars: 0.3 (g) 1 % GDA

Download free PDF version (269 download).

Recipe for veal in tuna sauce

Preparation and cooking

  • - Begin boiling your piece of veal.
    Prepare the carrot, leek, celery (all the vegetables peeled and washed), olive oil and vinegar in a deep saucepan.
    Season to taste with salt.
    Add the water enough to boil the meat and bring to the boil.
    Add the tied-up meat and bring to the boil again.
    At this point half-cover, lower the flame and cook until the meat is tender (about 2 hours).
  • - Let the meat cool in the broth and then remove it from the water.
  • - Meanwhile prepare the sauce.
    Whisk all the ingredients adding, eventually, some tablespoons of meat broth (a tablespoon at a time).
    The result must be a thick, coating sauce.
  • - Carve the meat in very thin slices.
    Arrange them on a tray and cover with the sauce.
    Garnish with some capers.

Just before serving

  • - Your vitello tonnato will be ready to eat in a few hours.
    All the ingredients must flavor together.
    Chill until serving but remember to bring to room temperature.
  • - Serve the veal with tuna sauce cold but not chilled.



  • - Loretta's tip. How many people can you serve with this veal recipe? It depends on how you cut the slices. Obviously thinner slices go further thicker ones. Besides you have the sensation of eating more with thin slices ;)))) Therefore cut the boiled meat with a slicer as an aunt of mine used to do. My suggestion is also very useful when you have to prepare veal with tuna sauce for many guests.
  • - You can prepare this veal with tuna sauce in two stages. The evening before, boil the meat and then let cool overnight. The next morning, cut the meat, prepare the sauce and arrange on the plate.
  • - You can keep veal with tuna sauce in refrigerator for a couple of days without altering its taste as long as you cover it with plastic wrap for food.

Menu planning

  • - You can serve veal with tuna sauce all year round, from winter to summer.
    This dish can open an important lunch or dinner as entree. Think well about the composition of your menu. Veal with tuna sauce is a very tasty dish but also important. It can be, alone, an excellent appetizer, especially when your menu includes other full-bodied dishes.
  • - Veal with tuna sauce can be a good solution in a buffet provided that you can obtain small slices from your piece of veal.
  • - But you can prepare veal with tuna sauce for your family dinner menu too. In this case it's a tasty main dish accompanied by a seasonal green salad and warm vegetables. Be careful not to prepare it too often. As you can see veal with tuna sauce is rich in calories and fat.
  • - The doses are right when you serve veal with tuna sauce as one-plate meal. On the contrary if served as appetizer or a buffet course the doses serve more people, up 10 to 12 people.
  • - You can serve veal with tuna sauce well sprinkled with its sauce as you can see in our photo, or with slightly overlapping slices of meat and a big spoonful of sauce in the middle

Healthy eating

  • - As you can see veal with tuna sauce is not exactly a dish with few calories and fat. In fact ... look at its nutrition fact.
    Its caloric intake comes mainly from the high amount of seasonings and its ingredients already hypercaloric in themselves.
    Veal with tuna sauce is really good but can not become a frequent dish in your daily menu. On the contrary it should be the exception. Do not you agree? ;)))


What's the right wine for " Veal with tuna sauce "?

The choice of wine depends on the type of dishes that accompany your veal with tuna sauce and of course the importance of your menu. Cerasuolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (Abruzzo wine) or Ciro rosé (wine of Calabria) or Freisa d'Asti (Piedmont wine) may be okay when your veal with tuna sauce is not completely covered with sauce and the other dishes are based on meat. Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Spumante (wine of Veneto) can be ideal in a menu of mixed dishes ( both fish and meat dishes) and the veal slices are completely sprinkled with tuna sauce.