Tuna Empanadas

Image of Catalan flag and lionI know it’s British Pie Week but I had to get at least one Spanish recipe in this week. These empanadas, or tuna pasties, are good hot or cold and although you can use ordinary puff or shortcrust here, this particular pastry is well worth a try.

Empanada pastry is often made with yeast but this uses self-raising flour instead. It’s a warm water crust, not dissimilar to English pork pie pastry, but very elastic and forgiving. The recipe for it comes from Elisabeth Luard’s La Ina Book of Tapas. The filling is my own: tuna, peppers and onions with sweet Spanish paprika and herbs.

I use stupidly expensive tuna from a jar because (and I’ve ranted about this at some length elsewhere on Mrs P) I think much of the tinned tuna available in the UK looks like cat food. It’s a subjective view: you pays your money and you takes your choice but the brand I used comes in big chunks, stays in juicy flakes in the filling and provides enough for four big pasties.

Tuna Empanadas

  • Servings: makes 4 big pasties
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Image of tuna empanadas

Ingredients for the filling:

150g tuna, drained weight, roughly flaked

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, de-seeded and diced

2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tspn sweet Spanish paprika

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tspn thyme leaves, picked from the stem

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A squeeze of lemon juice

Oil for frying

Ingredients for the pastry:

300g self-raising flour, plus extra for rolling

1/2 tspn salt

4 tbs olive oil, plus extra for greasing

2 tbsp white wine

120 ml milk or water

Beaten egg to glaze

Image of ingredients for the tuna filling


Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep frying pan and fry the vegetables until soft and tinged with colour. Stir in the paprika and cook a minute or two longer, then add the herbs.

Remove from the heat and mix in the tuna. Season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Allow to cool.

Image of prepared filling

To make the pastry, stir the salt into the flour in a big bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the oil, milk or water and white wine into a pan and bring up to blood heat, then stir it into the flour and mix until you have a soft dough. Work it some more until it’s smooth and elastic.

Scatter your worktop with flour and roll out the pastry thinly. It’s quite stretchy but persevere. Using a 19 cm diameter plate as a guide, cut out four circles, re-rolling where necessary. Place a mound of the filling on one half of each circle, dampen the edges and fold the other half over to make a pasty. Crimp to seal and brush with egg wash to glaze.

Image of the empanadas being formed

Place on the oiled baking tray and cook for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before tucking in. This recipe can also be used to make lots of bite-sized empanadillas or one big pie. Adjust the cooking times accordingly and if you’re making a big pie, reduce the oven temperature to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Image of cooked empanadas

Image of tuna empanada, broken open

9 thoughts on “Tuna Empanadas

  1. It’s not that I’m well-versed in empanadas but I’d no idea that they came in tuna flavor. Yours sound delicious, Linda, and your crusts are once again sheer perfection. You should write a blog or something and share your knowledge. 🙂

    • The Spanish do seem to have a soft spot for tinned tuna fish and the quality of theirs is better than we get in UK supermarkets. Thank you, John, for the kind words about the pastry. A food blog, hmmn? Not sure it’d ever take off. 🙂

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