Roast Pepper, Onion, & Tuna Empanadilla Recipe (Empanadillas de Atún Con Pimientos Rojos y Cebolla Asados)

My mother often made us empanadillas. She served them hot, to eat for lunch or dinner with a salad and patatas fritas (chips/fries), piping hot from the pan.

We all adored these tantalizing small pies and they have remained an unforgettable food memory from my childhood, especially as part of mother’s picnic basket: potato tortilla, roasted chicken legs, her special potato salad we called ensaladilla de mama, a good plate of Serrano ham and, of course, her delicious Empanadillas de Atún, which are equally good when cold.

Sometimes she would fry them and at other times she would bake them in the oven, I do the same. The dough is easy to make but you can buy it in shops already prepared under the brand La Molinera. 

This recipe is taken from Cocina de Andalucía by María José Sevilla, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£22). Photography by Nassima Rothacker © Ryland Peters & Small.

Read Maria's exclusive interview with Sous Chef, or try her recipe for Chickpea Spinach Stew

Ingredients for Roast Pepper, Onion, & Tuna Empanadilla

  • 2 large red (bell) peppers, left whole
  • 2 large white onions, halved
  • 2 x 115-g/4-oz. cans tuna fish fillets in extra virgin olive oil (ventresca if available), flaked
  • Spanish olive oil, for coating and frying
  • sea salt

For the dough

How to make Roast Pepper, Onion, & Tuna Empanadilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.
  2. Coat the vegetables with olive oil using your hands. Place the whole peppers and the halved onions in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 30–40 minutes, turning several times, until tender. When cool, remove the skins from the peppers and onions and chop the flesh together. Transfer to a bowl and mix coarsely with the tuna. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the flour, salt and oil and add the hot water. Work first with a spatula and then with your hands to make a ball. Add a little more water if needed. Cover the bowl with cling film/plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30–40 minutes. Sprinkle the work surface with flour, roll the dough out with the rolling pin until very thin. Using the pastry cutter, cut out 8–10 discs, rerolling the trimmings as necessary.
  4. Before filling the empanadillas, moisten the outside of the pastry discs with a little water using your finger. Fill one half the pastry base with some of the vegetable and tuna mixture, making certain there is space to fold over the pastry top. Press down the edges with the tines of a fork to seal and contain the filling.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
  6. Brush the empanadillas with beaten egg if liked, and bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, turning several times, until golden and crisp.
  7. NOTE You can also deep fry these empanadillas in plenty of oil heated to around 170°C/338°F, turning frequently until golden all over.
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