The Secret Ingredient

Inspiration for Everyday Cooking

Herb Roasted Turkey Tonnato


IMG_4334The first time I ever had Turkey Tonnato was on a return trip to Siena, Italy, to visit my ‘host family’ with whom I lived while studying abroad some 15 years prior. Elena served it laid out beautifully on a platter at room temperature (as many things are served in Italy). I didn’t even know what it was, but I loved it.

Recently I was in Trader Joe’s and saw a new product they carry— turkey tenderloins. They came two to a package in the refrigerated section with all the other fresh meats. Since birds don’t really have tenderloins, they are just turkey breasts, but they do resemble nice, plump pork tenderloins, and hence the name (or so I presume). Whatever you want to call them, the second I saw them I was transported back to Italy and decided to make Turkey Tonnato.

“Tonnato” is basically a creamy sauce made from tuna. Please don’t stop reading. Especially when I tell you there are also anchovies in the sauce. And capers. But I promise you this interesting combo of pantry staples (well, they are all staples in MY pantry, at least!) makes for one delicious sauce, which gets poured over the beautifully sliced turkey “loins”.

To start I just rubbed my turkey loins with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some dried herbs, and threw it into a 375 degree oven for about a half an hour. It came out perfect and juicy. I sliced it on an angle and topped with my tonnato sauce and a little parsley for color. And let me tell you, anchovies are in a lot more things than you realize. They give a wonderful salty/briny flavor to many things without screaming “anchovies! anchovies!” I promise you you’ve eaten something you found delicious at a restaurant that had some anchovies as their secret ingredient.

Bring some of Italy into your kitchen!   Just trust me on this one, folks.

Herb Roasted Turkey Tonnato
Serves 4

1.5 lbs turkey tenderloin
olive oil
about 1 tablespoon dried herbs (I used oregano & thyme, but basil is good too)
2 oz tuna in oil (or if in water, just add some extra olive oil)
juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy fillet
1 teaspoon capers (optional)
fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub turkey with olive oil and then with the salt/pepper/dried herbs. Place in baking dish and roast for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a small food processor or mini-prep, combine the tuna, lemon juice, anchovy, capers, and about a ‘glug’ of olive oil. Process until smooth. Add more olive oil if sauce is too thick or doesn’t look creamy.
Slice cooked turkey into rounds and place on a platter. Top with sauce and parsley.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

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