Leftovers Tuna Patties

This post is also available in: Italiano

This recipe is based loosely on the meatballs Andrea’s grandma used to make us in Italy from leftover boiled meat, eggs from the chickens, and stale bread. They were unlike anything I had every tried, warming and comforting with such an efficient use of leftovers which I greatly admired. They also did not belong anywhere near a plate of pasta, which most Americans think about when you mention Italian meatballs!

I had grilled too much polenta the day before so I thought about how it could be a good substitute for the stale bread that Andrea’s nonna had used in her meatballs. I learned to love good eggy mayo while living in Italy, so this recipe is also accompanied by a spicy mayo sauce. We always used Calve mayo in Italy, but I like the flavor of Sir Kensington’s Mayo too and it’s easier to find here in the US.

Leftovers Tuna Patties

Recipe by Colleen BeckettCourse: Fish, Recipes


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the patties
  • 2 slices of leftover grilled yellow polenta

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano

  • 1 can/jar good tuna (I like tuna in olive oil not water)

  • handful of parsley

  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil (for pan frying)

  • Spicy Mayo
  • 1/4 cup good mayo

  • Couples of dashes of your favorite hot sauce

  • Squirt of lemon


  • Tuna patties
  • Combine all dry ingredients into a food processor.
  • Add in the eggs and tuna (and some of its oil, you may need to add more bread crumbs depending on how wet the mixture is). Try to keep the mixture as wet as you can, but it needs to come together.
  • Remove the mixture from the food processor then start forming tiny oval shaped patties by hand. Place them on a plate or container you can cover and put in the fridge for at least a half hour. This will make them firm and easier to cook.
  • Pour half of a cup of sunflower oil into a pan and bring to a frying temperature, testing to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping in a crumb of the mixture and see if it floats to the top.
  • Shallow fry for about 5 minutes on each side, check to see if they are golden brown before flipping. I usually cover with a lid to make sure they are cooked through.
  • Spicy Mayo Sauce
  • Good mayo, a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce and a squirt of lemon.

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