When in Sicily, I love buying jars of those little hot peppers stuffed with tuna and happily munch on them throughout my visit (especially while relaxing on a balcony or patio with a nice bottle of local chilled crisp white wine – my very own version of Sicilian Happy Hour.) Lunch on the patio with friends was in the plans last weekend and having been craving these little treasures, decided to try the stuffing for tomatoes instead of cherry peppers. And although my little tomato plants are a long way from bearing fruit, I found a good crop of tomatoes at the market – so the first course for lunch was born! I used small, firm tomatoes and of course, you can use little cherry peppers as well. Perfect light appetizer for a patio lunch. Try some chilled Grillo or Inzolia wine from Sicilia if you can find it!
4 medium sized firm tomatoes
1 6-ounce can Italian tuna packed in oil, drained well
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt or vinegar packed capers, rinsed and finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, very finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar (to make a reduction)
1. Rinse and core the tomatoes. Clean out any seeds with a small spoon. Lightly salt inside of cavity and place upside down on paper towels or in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes.
2. Mash anchovy fillets together in a medium bowl. Add tuna, lemon juice, olive oil and capers and stir until blended. If mixture appears dry, add a bit more olive oil. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.
3. Rinse cavity of tomato and drain. Fill each tomato with filling. You should have enough filling to fill all four tomatoes.
4. Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan and simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Drizzle the syrup decoratively across the plate and place the tomatoes on top. Drizzle additional basalmic reduction across top of tomato.