August 31, 2012

Tomatoes "Tonnati"

The horrible heat wave and drought we have been having has finally been broken but a couple of days of rain. Not really enough, but enough to drop the temps down to something more livable. As we feel summer slipping away, I am enjoying the last tomatoes.

These huge tomatoes are more like a steak, as you can see by the size. One of them is enough my my husband and I to share as a main course.

A favorite sauce of mine is Salsa Tonnata, a tuna sauce, used to top paper-thin slices of veal, served in summer as a cold main course.

Last night I made, Tomatoes Tonnata.

Most Italian pantries have at least a can or jar of tuna for emergencies. Tuna can be added to a nice spicy tomato sauce for pasta, thrown into a salad to create a one course meal or pureed into salsa tonnata.

When I went into my pantry,  I didn't have tuna, but I had a jar of mackerel sgombro in Italian

I sliced the tomatoes into large steak-size pieces and topped with a healthy spoonful of my salsa sgombrata!

When I go out to grab a small snack at a bar, usually I will get a tuna sandwhich on foccaccia bread with mayonaise and tomatoes. This is the same flavor combination with no bread.

Commercial tonnata sauce is canned tuna drained and mixed with capers and mayonaise.

This recipe makes a "tuna" mayonaise.

Salsa Tonnata or "Sgombrata"

1 can tuna or mackerel ( about 100 grams or 3 ounces)
1 tbs capers
1 or 2 anchovy filets
lemon juice ( to taste)
1 cup light oil 

In a small food processor, puree the fish with the capers, anchovy filets and lemon juice.
Add 2 Tbs of oil. Puree again.

Slowly add more oil, like you do for making a mayonaise, until it is a smooth sauce.

I love it as is just on bread or stuffed into small cherry tomatoes.

1 cup light oil


  1. Great idea, Judy! Thank you!
    (I love the "cuore di bue" tomatoes which have been few and far between this summer because of the wretched heat, but if I can get some at San Lorenzo tomorrow, I'm having this for lunch!)

  2. Jasper J. Mirabile Jr.4:44 PM

    wow...What a great idea. I love Tonnata sauce!I also roast peppers and do the same.

  3. @laura freeman turns out these are called canestrati- much larger than the cuore di bue which look like a heart--i always thought THESE where the cuore di bue! but learned differently this year-- or perhaps by region to region names change

  4. Ciao, Judy. I know the canestrini, which I get when I can't get the cuore di bue. They are definitely different. Yesterday I got a sort of hybrid canestrini-cuore di bue, but I still prefer the "ox hearts". I've found canestrini in all sizes, while the cuore di bue I get are either large or HUGE. What I can't find - at least for now - are the piennolo! :/

  5. i have a guy from naples at my wednesday market in certaldo-- and he is also at the friday market in colle with the piennolo!!!
    and other things from naples

  6. Ha! Drought! We've had the wettest August for 100 years and our tomatoes are rotting on the vine - still green.

    Love that Tonnata. We do the same but it doesn't have a name. A good thrifty Yorkshire cook always has a few tins of tuna tucked away and we love tinned mackerel as well. My husband will happily eat a tin of mackerel on toast for breakfast!

  7. hello I love your blog ... went from me ;)