Tonnato Dip

January/February 2013

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This dip recipe is inspired by “vitello tonnato,” a classic Italian dish in which veal is served with a creamy tuna (tonnato) sauce. With this recipe, we riffed on classic tonnato sauce to create a dip for crunchy vegetables. Or you can try using this dip as tonnato sauce by tossing it with pasta. The egg yolk in this recipe is not cooked, but you can use a hard-boiled egg yolk instead or a yolk from a pasteurized-in-the-shell egg. This recipe makes more Cream Sauce without the Cream than you’ll need for the dip. Refrigerate or freeze the extra sauce and use it in place of heavy cream in any sauce or soup that calls for cream.

Tonnato Dip

Makes: About 2 cups

Active Time:

Total Time:


Cream Sauce without the Cream

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup long- or medium-grain white rice
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, preferably white


  • 5-6 ounces canned chunk light tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 anchovy fillets or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Cream Sauce without the Cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped rinsed capers
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. To prepare cream sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add broth and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the rice is very soft and the liquid is greatly reduced, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree, in batches if necessary, until smooth. (Alternatively, puree in the pot with an immersion blender.) The consistency should be similar to a pourable sauce; add more broth or water as needed. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, preferably white pepper.
  3. To prepare dip: Combine tuna (with its oil), 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, anchovies (or anchovy paste), egg yolk (if using) and garlic in a blender or food processor; process briefly to puree. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the Cream Sauce. Thin with a few tablespoons of water, if desired. Stir in capers and parsley. Season with pepper.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate cream sauce (Steps 1 & 2) for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting on your microwave. Cover and refrigerate the dip for up to 2 days.


Per 1/4-cup serving: 172 calories; 15 g fat (2 g sat, 11 g mono); 8 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 0 g fiber; 258 mg sodium; 36 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 0

Exchanges: 1 lean meat, 3 fat

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Recipe Categories

Health & Diet Considerations
Low cholesterol
Gluten free
Low carbohydrate
Total Time
1 hour or less
8 or more
Main Ingredient
Preparation/ Technique
Type of Dish
Ease of Preparation
January/February 2013
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