Tuesday, February 17, 2009
pick a pepper
Our friend Julie came over to watch Dr. Horrible recently. It's a very funny musical by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and subject of Dan's fanboy crush). If you like superheroes and Neil Patrick Harris and clever songs about the laundromat, this might be your new favorite movie.
Julie graciously offered to bring cheese and crackers, which would have been fine for some pre-dinner movie watching, but of course, it's never enough in my book. I would normally round out the cheese with some olives and spiced nuts and be done with it, but I had some time on my hands that afternoon and really felt like making something. You know, idle hands...hors d'oeuvres.
But what's a snacky-type item that goes well with cheese that's not cheese? Or olives or nuts?
My mind immediately lept to a page in a wonderful cookbook on my shelf, Andrew Carmellini's Urban Italian. I've tried a few recipes since getting the book as a gift a few months ago and every dish has been a winner, but there was one dish in particular I had had my eye on: tuna-stuffed Peppadew peppers. Other than the peppers, I had almost everything else in my pantry that afternoon—obviously, it was meant to be.
Have you ever tried Peppadews before? I really think you'd love them. They are sweet and mildly spicy, with a slightly smoky flavor. And they have a firm texture and cute, round shape which makes them ideal for stuffing, whether with cheese, ground meat, or as this recipe calls for, tuna.
Andrew Carmellini's version calls for a tuna salad-like mixture with mayo, scallions, basil, a squeeze of lemon, and a few spoonfuls of the briny mixture from the peppers. Although this sounds like something you'd eat on white bread (minus the Peppadew juice, I suppose) Carmellini insists it's actually a very authentic Italian combo. Whatever, dude. These peppers tasted fantastic—a perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory—and that's enough for me.
These peppers make an impressive appetizer, but I could also see serving them with a salad and some cheese as a light meal, or as a side dish with some rice and grilled meat.
(Serves about 4 to 6 people)
1 6 oz. can of tuna in oil (I really suggest using oil-packed instead of water-packed for this. It gives the dish an extra richness.)
2 scallions, white part, minced, plus 1 Tbsp. extra
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. juice from the Peppadew peppers
juice of 1 lemon
6 basil leaves, chopped (about 2 Tbsp.)
30 Peppadew peppers (about 1 jar)
Drain the oil from the tuna. Combine the tuna and scallions in a small bowl. Add the mayo and olive oil to the tuna and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the Peppadew juice, lemon juice, and basil. Mix well. Using your fingers (spoons are actually too cumbersome for this), stuff each pepper with the tuna mixture. Place them on a platter and sprinkle with the extra scallions. Serve immediately.