This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2004.

Pepin's tuna-stuffed tomato

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

2 large, fresh beefsteak-type tomatoes
Black pepper
1 tablespoon (15g) olive oil
6-ounce (180g) can tuna (see note)
2-ounce (60g) can anchovies
2 scallions (green onions)
12 olives
1 teaspoon (5g) capers
6 small cornichons
Mesclun or field lettuces for garnish


1. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and, using a tablespoon, scoop out the insides to make tomato cups to hold the salad. (If your computer has the horsepower, watch Pepin do this in the Website video. This picture is worth at least a couple of hundred words.)

2. Put the tomato pulp in a strainer and let most of the liquid drain off. Mash the pulp coarsely with a potato masher and season it with a little salt and pepper and the olive oil to make a simple fresh uncooked sauce.

3. Put the tuna in a bowl and flake it with a fork. I chose a rich, dark Italian-style tuna in olive oil for this dish, but you can use light or white albacore tuna in water if you prefer. In my opinion, though, this is a dish in which you don't want to spare the flavor, and a few extra calories won't hurt much in this simple dinner.

4. Chop the anchovies and mix them in with the tuna. (I did discard most of the oil from the anchovy can. Feel free to use your own judgement about this, or skip the anchovies entirely if you can't stand them. I encourage you to try it, though, as they do give the combination a serious flavor boost.)

5. Using any or all of the following to your taste and depending on what's in the pantry, chop the scallions; pit and chop the olives (Nicoise olives are perfect, but any olive will do); dice the cornichons, and add them with the capers to the tuna, tossing gently to mix the ingredients without mashing the tuna into a paste. Check seasonings and add black pepper to taste; with all these salty ingredients, it's unlikely that you'll need additional salt.

6. Stuff the tuna mixture into the tomato shells and serve on plates or shallow bowls, surrounded by the tomato sauce and garnished with mesclun.

MATCHING WINE: This is potent stuff and demands a reasonably hearty (but not tannic) wine. I found that the dark tuna stood up very well to a red, specifically the Ambra 2002 Barco Reale di Carmignano featured in yesterday's 30 Second Wine Advisor. Just about any acidic, low-tannin red, from a Chianti to a simple Cotes-du-Rhone, ought to do fine, as should dry and acidic whites such as Sauvignon Blanc or crisp Italian whites from Verdicchio to Soave to Vernaccia di San Gimignano.