Vitello tonnato is easily the greatest of all Italian cold dishes. It’s composed of thinly sliced poached veal layered with a luscious sauce made of olive oil–packed canned tuna, mayonnaise, anchovies and capers. Here, Marcella Hazan brilliantly switches it up: she drops the tuna from the sauce and replaces the meat with poached fresh tuna.  Slideshow: Terrific Tuna Recipes 

October 1997


Recipe Summary

30 mins
7 hrs 15 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a deep skillet, combine the celery, carrot, onion, vinegar, a pinch of salt and cover with 1 1/2 inches of water. Turn the heat to moderately high, cover and boil for 10 minutes. Add the tuna steak; when the water in the skillet returns to a boil, adjust the heat to moderately low so that the water simmers gently. Cover and cook the tuna until it is just pink in the center, 5 to 8 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the garlic, anchovies and capers with the lemon juice, olive oil and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and beat with a fork to combine.

  • Remove the tuna from the skillet and pat dry. Slice it 1/2 inch thick. Choose a deep glass or ceramic dish that will hold the tuna in a single layer. Lightly spread some of the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Add the tuna slices, laying them flat, and cover with the remaining sauce, spreading it evenly. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours, then refrigerate overnight. Bring to cool room temperature before serving.

Make Ahead

The tuna can be refrigerated in the sauce for up to 2 days.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc.