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A Savory Spring Treat: Chef Caleb Barber’s Recipe for Fresh Tomatoes in Tuna Mayonnaise

Summer is tomato season and nothing beats a ripe, home-grown tomato. And after putting so much work into nurturing and growing your own tomatoes, you’ll want to do something special with them.

Chef Caleb Barber (co-author of In Late Winter We Ate Pears: A Year of Hunger and Love) has a few ideas about that. Here’s one of them.

From Vermont Life Magazine:

Pomodori Heirloom Tonnati or Fresh Tomatoes in Tuna Mayonnaise

Chef Caleb Barber, Pane e Salute, Woodstock

In Barber’s twist on the classic Italian Vitello Tonnato — veal in tuna mayonnaise — slices of fresh tomato stand in for the meat and are drizzled with a briny, creamy sauce. It makes a perfect light lunch with good crusty bread or a lovely first course for an al fresco summer dinner. Barber and his wife and restaurant co-owner Deirdre Heekin grow many of the restaurant’s tomatoes, and for this recipe, he says, the tomatoes should be quite firm, possibly even a touch green as Italians sometimes prefer.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer, side salad or light lunch course.

3 large egg yolks

Juice of 1 lemon

2 or 3 pinches of salt, plus more to

½ cup plus additional olive oil as

1 (5-ounce) can Italian tuna packed in
oil, drained and squeezed of excess

1 Tablespoon capers, drained

1 anchovy filet

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

6-8 large fresh tomatoes, cored and
sliced ¼-inch thick

In a food processor (or in a medium-sized bowl and using a whisk), beat the yolks, lemon juice and salt together. Slowly beat in the olive oil, a few drops at a time if you are working by hand, or gradually by a thin drizzle with the blade running if you are working with the food processor, until the desired texture of a light mayonnaise is achieved. (Start with ½ cup olive oil in a steady stream and stop the blade as soon as the oil is finished.) If the mayonnaise is not thick enough, drizzle in a little more oil, taking care not to overmix. (If overmixed, the emulsion may break apart and no longer suspend the oil.)

Pour 23 of this simple mayonnaise into a separate bowl and set aside. Add the tuna, capers and anchovy to the mayonnaise in the food processor. Process together until smooth, then fold in reserved mayonnaise until a saucy texture is reached, neither stiff nor runny. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Spoon the mayonnaise over the tomato slices and serve. Any remaining mayonnaise can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. (Recipe first published in “Pane e Salute: Food and Love in Italy and Vermont” by Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber, Invisible Cities Press, 2002.)

Read the whole article here.

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