Vitello tonnato burger

Based on the Italian classic of cold sliced veal covered with a creamy tuna mayonnaise sauce, Maria Elia offers a new interpretation, using similar flavours
By Maria Elia
Vitello tonnato burger
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus chilling
  • Effort: easy


For the burgers

  • 640 g best quality rose minced veal
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 50 g capers, rinsed, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
  • A handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 ciabatta
  • Watercress or rocket

For the tonnato sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice, plus extra to taste
  • 5 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 240 ml olive oil
  • 200 g canned sustainable (in olive oil) tuna, drained
  • 1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
  • A splash of white wine vinegar
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

Buy the best quality veal you can. Rose veal is from less intensively reared animals and it has a pale pink colour.


1. For the burgers: mix together the veal, shallot, capers, lemon zest, parsley and a little olive oil if you feel it needs it. Season with pepper and a little salt , but not too much as the capers are salty. Taste for seasoning if you dont want to try the mix raw, fry off 1 teaspoon or so then taste. Divide the mixture into 4 and shape into burgers. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

2. For the tonnato sauce: combine together the egg yolks, lemon juice and anchovies in a food processor until smooth. Then, with the motor running pour in the oil in a thin, steady stream. You can also do this by hand with a whisk. Put in half the tuna and capers. Pulse just enough to combine, then fold through the remaining tuna. If making by hand you may want to roughly chop the tuna and capers to break them down a little. Finish by mixing in a little vinegar and extra lemon juice to taste. Chill until required. The sauce will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

3. To cook the burgers, preheat a griddle pan or bbq. Drizzle the burgers with olive oil and cook for 3 - 4 minutes on each side for a medium rare burger, or longer depending on your preference.
Drizzle the ciabatta rolls with olive oil and lightly toast under the grill, then spread one cut side with the tonnato sauce. Scatter over some watercress or rocket, then top with a burger, a little more sauce and the remaining capers. Serve with extra sauce on the side and lemon wedges for squeezing.

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