Shake Up Your Traditional Empanadas With A Tuna Twist

Empanadas on a plate
Empanadas on a plate - Mila Bond/Shutterstock

In the United States, National Empanada Day falls on April 8, and it's no surprise these beloved hand pies, traditionally stuffed with hearty fillings and warm spices, get a celebratory day. Perfect for on-the-go snacking, variations of empanadas can be found throughout Latin America. However, they are believed to have been introduced by Spanish colonists. Modern empanadas are traditionally viewed as Argentinian food, where they are often served with a ground beef filling.

To put a twist on classic ground beef empanadas, filling the pastry with a delicious tuna mixture is the perfect way to shake things up. Also known as empanadas de atún, the filling for these flaky, buttery wonders can be made using numerous ingredients. For instance, canned tuna mixed with briny olives, sweet tomatoes, smoky paprika, and tangy onions creates aromatic, juicy, and delightfully moreish empanadas.

Tuna is as protein-packed as beef, as well as being high in omega-3s while remaining low in fat and calories. Therefore, tuna is a highly nutritious filling. If you're looking for a way to add variety to your empanada fillings, we think tuna makes a glorious choice.

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Tips For Making The Best Tuna Empanadas Ever

Empanadas with a bowl of chopped bell peppers
Empanadas with a bowl of chopped bell peppers - etorres/Shutterstock

Tuna empanadas can easily be made with what you have in the pantry. Instead of olives, you may choose another salty ingredient like capers, which will provide salinity and a slightly floral note. You can effortlessly incorporate sweet bell peppers for a satisfying crunch or substitute them with Spanish-style roasted peppers to impart a touch of acidity from the vinegar and tang from the garlic. You may also spice things up with chili powder or chopped jalapeños.

It's also important to question what type of tuna you will add alongside these ingredients. First, it's essential to recognize the differences between oil-packed tuna and tuna packed in water, as this is the chief flavor in your empanadas. Oil-packed tuna is more tender, flavorful, and moist. Water-packed tuna is great in recipes that call for another fat, such as butter or mayonnaise. With empanadas, olive oil is likely your primary fat source. Therefore, you want the added fat from the oil to give your empanadas a juicy, moist texture. Consequently, oil-packed tuna can be drained: You can use this oil to fry off the other ingredients in your empanadas. It's a brilliant way to reduce waste and create more flavorful empanadas.

Vigil Empanadas

Flour-dusted work surface with uncooked empanadas
Flour-dusted work surface with uncooked empanadas - Arinahabich/Getty Images

While adding tuna to empanadas may sound like a new twist, it holds historical and cultural significance. Empanadas de Vigilia, or vigil empanadas, are a part of Lenten cuisine traditionally prepared in the days leading up to Easter. Celebrated throughout Christianity, Lent is a period of abstinence that lasts 40 days and begins, for some denominations, on Ash Wednesday. Those observing this period may fast from certain foods or drinks, forms of technology, or other pleasures. In Argentina and Mexico, Catholics following the period of Lent commonly fast from meat for the entire period of Lent or during specific days (such as Ash Wednesday). Instead, vegetarian and seafood dishes typically take the lead. Thus, vigil empanadas can be made with tuna, squid, or other fish and seafood.

Good Friday is another common day to see vigil empanadas consumed instead of the meat-filled variety. This Catholic tradition stems from recognizing that flesh meat, such as beef, chicken, or pork, symbolizes the body Jesus Christ sacrificed on Good Friday. Consequently, fish or vegetarian empanadas make delicious alternatives on this day. Whether you're looking for ways to cut down on meat, celebrate Lenten traditions, or simply explore diverse empanada variations, tuna proves to be a truly delightful alternative to meat.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.