As spring gets closer each day, I’m filled with a giddy lightness, very much looking forward to the brown landscape transforming into one filled with buds and tenderest leaves. This much-awaited season makes for easy eating, where only a little cooking is needed to make foods to shine. Tonnato sauce, which I rave all about here, makes an ideal pairing for seasonal stars fava beans and tender asparagus spears. Once the sauce is made, it will keep for up to 1 week. It is so versatile and delicious, however, it likely won’t last that long. If you cannot find fava beans, fresh or thawed frozen peas work just as well. You could also use thin green beans, snap peas, broccoli florets, even sunflower sprouts. Really, anything juicy and green can be swapped in! Similarly, feel free to explore different crunchy bits instead of the sunflower seeds, such as toasted pecans or walnuts. After draining the tuna, save that oil for salads or cooked grains. —Melina Hammer
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 7 minutes
- Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a side
(6.7-ounce) jar oil-packed tuna, drained
salt-packed capers, rinsed of their salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons)
fava beans, shucked
toasted, salted sunflower seeds
chopped curly parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the mayonnaise, tuna, capers, anchovies, pepper, oil, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of water in a small high-speed blender. Blitz until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add another tablespoon of water and blitz again until uniform. Transfer the tonnato to a jar with a lid and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 week.
- Blanch the fava beans for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water, then plunge into an ice bath until cool. Squeeze or peel the favas to remove and discard the skins.
- Snap the woody ends from the asparagus and set up a steamer (I place a steamer basket in a large saucepan filled with about an inch of water). Steam the asparagus over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until bright green. Shock the asparagus in an ice bath to halt their cooking. Transfer the spears to a tea towel and blot dry.
- Swirl the tonnato onto a plate. Nestle the fava beans on one side and stack asparagus next to them. Top with the sunflower seeds, a shower of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, and lots of pepper.