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Vitel Tonnè

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Piemonte, Italy - Image: Megan Lawrie Cole on Visual Hunt

Today I want to share with you a classic Italian summer recipe: the Vitel Tonnè!

It is a kind of surf-and-turf dish because veal is combined with canned tuna. This delicatessen was very popular during the seventies, and you can’t find it today in restaurants, but I still cook it during the summer because it is a cold, rich, delicious dish.

Vitel Tonnè is typically a Piedmontese dish, invented in the 1700s. During those days, there was no mayo and no tuna, it was simply veal cooked with tuna, anchovies, and capers. It was a way to use leftover veal to create something different and delicious.

The Vitel Tonnè we eat today is a popular revisitation of the ancient recipe. It is easy, creamy, and yummy—perfect for a summer buffet!

Note: In this recipe I use commercial mayo, because the taste is lighter. If you want, you can try it with a homemade version.

Vitel Tonnè

1 lb. thick piece boneless veal topside

1 small onion

2 bay leaves

2 celery sticks, halved

1 small carrot, peeled

6 black peppercorns

1 glass dry white wine

200 g canned tuna

300 g mayonnaise

1 Tbs capers

2 salted anchovies



1/2 lemon

Salt and Pepper

Marinate the veal the day before in a deep dish with onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and black pepper, drizzling with white wine.

The day after, immerse the veal and marinade in a large pot of water, bringing to a low boil, approximately one and half hours, seasoning with salt at the end. Remove the veal and let it cool. When cooled, slice thinly and arrange on a serving platter.

Prepare the sauce:

Add tuna and mayo to a blender along with 1 Tbs of lemon juice, the anchovies, caper berries, parsley, and pickles. Blend until smooth.

Spread the sauce on the veal slices, garnish with caper berries and lemon slices.

Cover and place in the fridge 1 hour before serving.


Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).

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