Tuna Empanadillas

Recipe Information

Total Time: 

1 hour; 30 minutes active


makes 8

We think of canned tuna, packed in water, as a healthy filling for a sandwich, but in Spain, high quality tuna packed in good olive oil is a completely different ingredient. Rich and meaty tuna steaks are preserved in fruity olive oil, and given just as much respect as fresh seafood. (Look for tuna in olive oil at your co-op.) Try this version of a tuna sandwich, and you may never want tuna salad again.



  • 2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling out
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ice water, approximately


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 5-ounce cans tuna in oil, drained (or reserve the oil and use 1 tablespoon in place of the extra virgin olive oil for sauteing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano


  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and paprika. Use a box grater to grate the cold butter into the flour, using the coarse holes to create shreds of butter. Toss the butter with the flour, and drizzle in the olive oil. Quickly stir in the ice water, pressing the dough to form a mass. If needed, drizzle in a tablespoon or so of water just to moisten all the flour. Don't overmix. Flatten the dough into a disk and cut it into 8 even wedges, and form each into a ball. Put in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, chill while you prepare the filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil for a minute over high heat, then add the onions and bring to a sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red peppers and garlic and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and the pan is nearly dry. Remove from heat and stir in the oregano and drained tuna, mashing it slightly to break up the flakes. Taste for salt, most tuna is salty enough but add a pinch more if it needs it.
  4. Sprinkle the countertop with flour and roll out each round of dough to an oval about 4 inches across. Scoop a 1/4 cup of the tuna filling into the center of the dough oval. Brush water on the edge of the dough and fold the dough over the filling and press to seal. Flute the edges by pinching and crimping decoratively and place the empanadilla on the pan so that the fluted edge is on top, and gently press the empanadilla to make a flat base.
  5. Repeat until all eight of the dough rounds are filled.
  6. Bake the empanadillas for 20-25 minutes, until the dough is crisp and the bottoms are lightly browned. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chill tightly covered for up to four days.

Nutritional Information

302 calories, 14 g. fat, 22 mg. cholesterol, 292 mg. sodium, 28 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fiber, 15 g. protein