Spanish Tuna Pie

I’ve been looking through Claudia Roden’s new cookbook, “The Food of Spain“, a hefty tome filled with a lot of delicious-sounding recipes. For some reason, out of all the possible options I chose to make a tuna pie which has olives in it. I don’t even like olives but it sounded like they were pretty crucial to the authenticity of the dish so I left them in for others to enjoy.

While I was making the dish, I realized it’s really more like a Spanish ‘calzone’ – the dough is oil-based much like a pizza dough but more tender. I had a really hard time working with the dough, because of the elasticity and the fact that it wanted to tear. But it all turned out ok even if it didn’t look like the most appetizing thing based on the top crust. We cut it into squares to serve anyway!

After the meal I was approached by an Argentinian friend. She asked me where I had gotten the recipe and I told her it was from a Spanish cookbook. She got all excited and said, “I thought so!” – turns out it’s a popular dish in Argentina attributed to the Spanish called galicia.  When I got home and looked back at the cookbook – sure enough, that’s what it was called “empanada de atun – galicia“.  I guess it must have turned out pretty close to the ‘real thing’!

Galicia – Spanish Tuna Calzone
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 egg, separated

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 (5 oz.) cans tuna, drained
20 Kalamata olives, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Beat all dough ingredients together except the flour, mix well. Gradually add flour and work it together into a dough with your hands, adding more flour if necessary to form a malleable dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour (place it in a bowl to rest, as the oil may drip out).

Meanwhile, saute the onion and pepper in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt, lower heat and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all excess moisture is cooked out. Remove from heat and stir in tuna, olives and chopped eggs. This is what the filling looked like.

After the dough has rested, divide it into two pieces – one half again as large as the other. Roll out the larger piece to fit a 9×13 pan and place it in the bottom of the pan. Re-wrap the smaller piece and set aside until you need it for the top crust. The problem with this dough was that it was so tender I ended up moving it to the pan and having to spread it back out again, patching the dough as I went. Try to make the dough come up the sides about 1/2-inch, if possible. Lightly beat the egg white and brush it all over the bottom crust.

Bake the bottom crust at 350F for 10 minutes. Let the crust and the filling cool. Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust, just going to the edge where the bottom crust has sprung back a bit during baking. Then roll out the second piece of dough and place it gently over the filling, trying not to tear it like I did! Tuck the edges around the filling towards the bottom of the pan. Brush the top with the egg yolk, slightly beaten. Bake for about 40 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Adapted from: The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden


2 responses to “Spanish Tuna Pie

  1. what you made is basically empanada gallega from the region of Galicia spain, I have been looking up recipes and most are similar but do not have the wine in the dough, and some use yeast. here is a similar dough recipe I found: •2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    •1 tablespoon baking powder
    •1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    •1/2 cup water
    •1/4 cup olive oil
    •1 large egg, lightly beaten
    also, instead of the rectangle shape, most use a 13″ round pie shape with top and bottom, the bottom crust rolled up on the edges, then baked. The tuna/onion/pepper filling is very common too. the olives are optional IMO. I want to try this but without the olives.

  2. a much simpler version of your recipe. the crust is very thin though, I may try it with the dough above.

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