Grilled Summer Salad With Tonnato Verde

August  4, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

A good sauce can transform even the simplest of dishes, and this is especially true of tonnato, a creamy, mayo-based Italian condiment. Traditionally served on cold sliced veal, this quick pantry sauce is equally delicious on chilled sliced chicken breast as it is on roasted pork loin. That said, it can also be used as a crudite dip, sandwich spread, in potato salad, or as a pasta sauce.

Canned tuna, a pantry staple and weeknight dinner hero, is the base for our tonnato. Here, it’s spiked with briny capers and anchovies, and upgraded for the summer with the addition of fresh green herbs. The tonnato also makes unexpected use of tofu, which replaces mayo in this sauce and delivers the same creamy texture with the added benefits of plant-based protein, calcium, iron, and valuable minerals. Tofu’s neutral flavor makes it the perfect vessel to showcase the other flavors in the sauce, and allow the vegetables in the salad to sing.

Speaking of the vegetables: This colorful grilled salad celebrates the bounty of vibrant summer beans, sweet corn, and juicy tomatoes. The cooking is kept simple, with only olive oil, salt, and pepper as seasoning, to allow the natural flavors of the veggies to come through. The grill heat coaxes out the natural sweetness of the beans, while concentrating their flavor with a nice infusion of smoky notes—feel free to use any mix of romano, wax and green beans for varying textures and colors. Lettuces gain a wilted charred exterior that contrasts their cool and crisp sweet interior. And at the end, the tangy tonnato brightens and balances all the smoky elements. —kay chun

Test Kitchen Notes

The Green Plate Club is a recipe column by Kay Chun. Each month, she’ll show us how to make a great meal while being a little kinder to the planet—one clever tip, trick, or swap at a time. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Salad
  • 1 pound romano, wax, or green beans (or a mix)
  • 1 pound small escarole and/or little Gem heads, halved lengthwise through the core
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 baguette, halved lengthwise
  • 1 ear fresh corn, husked
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Tonnato Verde
  • 2 (7-ounce) cans high-quality water-or oil-packed tuna, drained
  • 4 ounces soft tofu
  • 3 salt-or oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup (packed) Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the salad: Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the grates.
  2. Toss beans and lettuce with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the cut side of the baguette with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Grill the lettuce, beans, bread, and corn, turning occasionally, until lettuce is wilted, bread is toasted, and beans and corn are nicely charred and tender—this will take about 2 minutes for the lettuce and bread, about 5 minutes for the beans, and 10 to 12 minutes for the corn. Once cooked, transfer vegetables and bread to a cutting board to cool. Coarsely chop the cooled lettuce and bread, cut the corn kernels off of the cob, and set aside. Leave the beans whole.
  3. Meanwhile, make the tonnato verde: In a food processor, add 2 ounces of the tuna, tofu, anchovies, garlic, parsley, chives, lemon juice, Parmesan, and capers. Pulse a few times to combine. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is well emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To a large bowl, add the grilled lettuce and beans; season with the 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine. Divide this mixture on 4 plates, then follow with the croutons, corn, tomatoes, capers and the remaining tuna, divided for each serving. Drizzle one-quarter of the dressing over each salad, then garnish with chives and more black pepper.

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2 Reviews

Missy R. June 9, 2022
If I would rather use mayo I stead of the tofu, what is the measurement?
Missy R. June 9, 2022
** instead