This piquillo peppers recipe, or Spanish tuna stuffed peppers, is a classic Spanish tapa. Pimientos de piquillo rellenos are roasted, red peppers that are stuffed with tastiness.
Traditional Spanish | No Cooking | Gluten-Free
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Check out our Spain Food Guide – What To Eat In Spain for more details on regional must-try dishes in Spain.
What Are Piquillo Peppers
These small, only 2.5 inch peppers, pack a lot of punch. But not the spicy punch you are thinking of, rather a flavor punch. Piquillo peppers are a variety of chili peppers but with no heat. Instead of heat, the peppers are surprisingly sweet making them more versatile than their fiery cousins.
They are the perfect peppers to make pimientos piquillo rellenos, or stuffed peppers. In this recipe, we offer a classic Spanish tapa of tuna stuffed pepper.
Piquillo Peppers From Lodosa
Grown in the northern Spanish region of Navarre, the epicenter of piquillo pepper production is the small town of Lodosa. Once harvested, the peppers are typically roasted to draw out their sweetness. Piquillo peppers are often compared to bell peppers in terms of their sweet taste. After roasting, the peppers are peeled and roasted for a second time. Next, they are marinated in salt, pepper, and Spanish olive oil.
Throughout Spain, Piquillo peppers are stuffed with various meats, cheeses, and even seafood. The sweetness of the peppers nicely compliments each of these fillings. You’ll find the peppers in restaurants as well as tapas bars. If you spot them, make sure to try them. This particular recipe is an homage to a pintxos bar in San Sebastian that makes some tasty tuna stuffed peppers. If you are traveling in Spain, look for atún, which is tuna in Spanish.
Learn more in our San Sebastian Pintxos Guide – What To Eat in San Sebastian Spain.
Where To Buy Pimientos Piquillos
These roasted piquillo peppers are sold either as jarred or canned piquillo peppers. I feel like canned is a little more traditional in Spain, but it is probably more likely you will find them jarred. Be sure to buy whole peppers (enteros in Spanish) so that you can fill them.
The easiest place to buy these red piquillo peppers is on Amazon. Although some specialty grocery stores might have them as well. They might have them at supermarkets like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
They are not cheap. This is almost an investment. And, it’s not price-gouging at supermarkets in the US. Piquillo peppers, proper ones, from Ledosa, are expensive in Spain as well. It is the combination of the quality of the pepper and the time-intensive preparation that makes them expensive.
Check out some of our other classic Spanish tapas recipes:
Ingredients For Pimientos Del Piquillo Rellenos
Tuna stuffed piquillo peppers recipe actually has more than just its named ingredients, but not much more. In addition to the piquillo peppers, canned tuna should be drained well.
The tuna is mixed with a shallot, which is finely minced, along with salt and black pepper for seasoning. The tuna mixture is made with a combination of mayonnaise, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
A touch of color and fresh flavor is added by the addition of diced fresh parsley. I also add a bit of capers, which are also drained. This is what adds the tanginess to the tuna mixture, but is entirely optional.
How To Make This Piquillo Peppers Recipe
Generally, I love recipes that involve mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. It just makes a recipe so easy. But, this Spanish tuna stuffed peppers recipe is not as easy as it sounds. Sure, all of the ingredients, other than the peppers are blended, but stuffing the tuna stuffed piquillo peppers is a little more nuanced.
How To Prepare The Tuna Mixture
Be sure to drain the tuna well. It’s best to press the tuna with a fork to get the water or brine to drain well. Add the tuna to a small mixing bowl. Blend in the salt, pepper, shallot, mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice. Use a fork or a rubber spatula to blend all of the ingredients together. Add the parsley and capers if you are using them and stir well.
It’s important to taste the tuna mixture before stuffing the peppers and make them to your liking. You might want to add a bit more mayo or lemon juice to get the right taste and consistency. The mixture should be moist without being too wet.
How To Make The Piquillo Peppers Stuffed With Tuna
The most difficult part of this tuna stuffed peppers recipe is actually stuffing the peppers. The peppers are stored, whether in a jar or a can, in a lot of oil. Place the peppers in a sieve or colander to drain the oil. Feel free to collect the oil and use it in another recipe – it’s tasty.
Open each pepper with your fingers and stuff the piquillo pepper carefully with a small spoon or your finger. You can push the tuna into the pepper a bit, but be careful not to rip to tear the pepper.
The stuffed piquillo peppers really should be served immediately, or day of. If you make them the day before, then place the peppers on a couple of paper towels about 30 minutes before serving to soak up some of the excess moisture.
- 2 12 ounce cans of tuna, drained and pressed
- 1 shallot, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, diced
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed (optional)
- Be sure to drain the tuna well. It’s best to press the tuna with a fork to get the water or brine to drain well. Add the tuna to a small mixing bowl.
- Blend in the salt, pepper, shallot, mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice.
- Use a fork or a rubber spatula to blend all of the ingredients together.
- Add the parsley and capers if you are using them and stir well.
- Open each pepper with your fingers and stuff the piquillo pepper carefully with a small spoon or your finger. You can push the tuna into the pepper a bit, but be careful not to rip to tear the pepper.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 220Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 229mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 33g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
FAQs – Piquillo Peppers Recipe
Piquillo peppers can be stuffed with tuna, but also other things, like rabo de toro (oxtail), crab, prawns, or lobster.
In the end, any whole, roasted red pepper can be used here. The tough thing is that they need to be whole (enteros). So, normal red bell peppers or baby bell peppers that are roasted could potentially work, if they are whole. It’s worth finding the piquillo peppers if you can because there is so much flavor in them, particularly with the olive oil.
Some specialty supermarkets will carry them, particularly ones that offer Italian or Spanish products. Sometimes, you can find them at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The best place, though, is to buy them on Amazon.
The word for pepper in Spanish is pimienta. This refers to both the vegetable and the spice. Although, with the spice, you would say, pimienta negra (black pepper).