Vitello tonnato refers to an Italian dish made of sliced, cold veal covered with a mayonnaise, creamy type sauce flavoured with tuna. This dish refers to the 18th century when the Italian merchants used to stop for salt in Marseille and Nice and used some to pack the buckets filled with anchovies and they sold the fresh fish at lower price to people who were unable to afford.
In local dialect, it is known as ‘vitel tonne and vital refers to veal and tonne refers to tanne and it means conciato or tanned, preserved or cured. Tonnato had nothing with tuna and during those days, anchovies were packed in salt and not with canned tuna, as it is now done.
Pair it with vegetables as in with green beans, bell peppers and beets, though chicories are recommended strongly. This is a nice dish offering a natural fit. There are adjusted versions of sauce and the anchovies offer a cleaner and mellower bite. This is seen in other recipes with sugar snap peas, charred broccoli, string beans and radishes. In fact, even garlic and dried mushrooms are added, besides as a thickening agent, the potatoes are included. Fried sprouts offer crispiness.