The Antipasto Plate: Piquillo Peppers stuffed with Smoked Paprika Tuna

In a Ligurian delicatessen, with the Mediterranean sun streaming in from the nearby Golfo dei Poeti, one of the festive goodies on the shelves close to a big display counter was bright red peppers stuffed with tuna paste and preserved in olive oil. They were presented in whimsical bottles of assorted shapes and sizes, all expensive and all so very Italian.

I never got to try them in Italy, but when I turned to the antipasto platter in the hours before hosting one of my earliest woodfired pizza parties, I remembered the ripe redness of the fruit against the meats and cheeses in that marvelous store, and imagined something like that would go well on a platter. It did indeed, and the resulting recipe tastes as good as it looks.  These peppers are on almost every antipasto platter now at Chez Bullhog – a favorite through the years.

Piquillo peppers stuffed with Smoked Paprika Tuna

Piquillo peppers stuffed with Smoked Paprika Tuna

Piquillo Peppers stuffed with Tuna


1 jar Piquillo Peppers (about 12)

2 cans solid white Albacore tuna in water

2 Tablespoons good olive oil

3 green onions, bottom 3 inches, finely chopped

2-3  Tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3/4  teaspoon salt

Extra oil and paprika for garnish

  1. Carefully remove all of the piquillo peppers from the jar and spread them out onto a cutting board.  Cut the ragged tops off so that you have pepper cups that are 1 ½ inches tall.  Reserve the cut rings for pizza toppings.
  2. Open the cans of tuna and drain the liquid, but don’t dump out the contents.  Using a sharp knife, score the meat in the can in crosshatches, as finely as you can, lifting the fluffy product as you go.  As the tuna builds, put it into a small mixing bowl, and go back to chopping the remainder.
  3. Finely chop the white part of the green onion and add it to the tuna, then drizzle the olive oil over it.  Mix lightly.  Add the mayonnaise and finally the smoked paprika and mix vigorously with a salad fork to form a soft paste.
  4. Stuff the peppers, being careful not to burst the sides.  I find that having a clean left hand and a slightly messy right hand allows me to clean any overspill and still keep stuffing.  The peppers will not stand up in a container, because of their angular bottoms, but will lie well in repose. (You will likely have some mix left over after stuffing all the peppers.)
  5. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and more paprika and serve chilled. 



  • Jars of peppers vary in size and texture.  I find Napoleon brand most consistently good; I avoid Goya, as they tear easily.
  • For a treat, use imported Italian tuna: tonno trancia intero.  Two 100 gram cans will do the trick.  Leave out the olive oil in step 3.
  • Careful with the smoked paprika – 1 teaspoon and no more or you will totally overwhelm the tuna!



Copyright 2009 by Don Hogeland

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