Summer Tomato Tonnato Salad Recipe

Italian tonnato sauce makes a nicely creamy accompaniment to peak summer tomatoes in this simple no-cook salad.

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • An immersion blender makes quick work of the creamy mayonnaise-based emulsion for tonnato sauce.
  • Resisting the urge to over-blend the tonnato prevents it from becoming grainy.
  • Spicy Calabrian chilies and nutty toasted black sesame seeds balance out the sweet acidity of summer tomatoes.

Combining the elements of a classic tuna sandwich—oil-packed tuna, mayonnaise, and fresh tomatoes—this easy, beautiful no-cook summer salad is the perfect way to celebrate peak tomato season.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 4 servings

Rate & Comment


For the Tonnato:

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice (from 2 whole lemons), divided

  • anchovy fillets (about 1/4 ounce; 7g)

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon (5g) capers, drained

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil

  • 4 ounces (113g) oil-packed tuna, such as Ortiz, drained

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:

  • 2 pounds (900g) mixed ripe tomatoes (see notes)

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) chopped Calabrian chiles

  • Toasted black sesame seeds and coarse sea salt, for serving (optional)

  • 15 to 20 fresh basil leaves, large leaves torn and small leaves left whole


  1. For the Tonnato: Place egg, 2 tablespoons (30ml) lemon juice, anchovies, mustard, and capers in the bottom of an immersion blender cup or another tall-sided container that just fits the head of your immersion blender. Pour vegetable oil on top and allow to settle for 15 seconds. Place head of immersion blender at bottom of cup and turn it on high speed. Do not pulse or move the head. As mayonnaise forms, slowly tilt and lift the head of the immersion blender until all oil is emulsified; this should take between 30 and 45 seconds.

  2. Turn off blender and remove from blender cup. Scrape down sides of cup using a rubber spatula, then add tuna and remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) lemon juice. Return blender head to blender cup and blend just until tuna is thoroughly incorporated into a smooth sauce, 15 to 30 seconds. Avoid over-blending, as this can cause the sauce to become grainy.

  3. Transfer sauce to a medium mixing bowl and slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate sauce until ready to serve.

  4. For the Salad: Using a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife, cut tomatoes into an assortment of slices, wedges, and bite-size pieces.

  5. Using a large spoon, spread tonnato in an even layer on a large serving plate or individual serving plates. Arrange tomatoes on top of tonnato, then dollop with small spoonfuls of Calabrian chilies. Sprinkle sesame seeds and sea salt (if using) over tomatoes, followed by basil leaves. If not using sea salt, season tomatoes with kosher salt. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Immersion blender


This salad is meant to celebrate peak tomato season, and won't be nearly as good if made with out-of-season tomatoes. The amount of tomatoes for the salad can easily be adjusted to accommodate the number of people you are serving.

This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of tonnato, which will leave you with extra sauce if you're serving 4 people. Refrigerate leftover tonnato in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The salad is best enjoyed immediately. The tonnato can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
622 Calories
60g Fat
11g Carbs
13g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 622
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 60g 77%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 488mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 48mg 239%
Calcium 42mg 3%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 757mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)