They sell something very similar to these in one of my local delicatessens, but rather more mayonnaise-y – and they sell them for about £1 per pepper, which is a simply amazing markup when you consider that a whole jar of the things, unstuffed, will only cost you about £2.50. Add a small can of tuna and a few ingredients which you probably have in the fridge already, and you’ve got (if you’re making them at home) a very inexpensive and very easy canapé, which you can make well in advance of any party you might be serving them at.
I spent years under the illusion that Peppadews (a brand name rather than a botanical name) were some sort of fruit which wasn’t related to the chilli. I think that perhaps I was a victim of some 1990s marketing. They’re actually a round chilli pepper, which grows in the Limpopo region of South Africa (cue chants of “great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo river” from all those of us who absorbed Kipling’s Just So stories at our mothers’ knees), and is processed to remove the seeds, then preserved in a sweet pickling mixture. Removing the seeds reduces the chilli’s heat, and it also leaves a nice, tidy hole in the top of the chilli which is just right for pushing stuffing into.
You want something salty, savoury and assertive in a stuffing here, that won’t get overwhelmed by the sweet and strong fruitiness of the chillies. Tinned tuna and capers are a really good match here. To fill a jar of little chillies (which will serve 4-6 as a nibble with drinks), you’ll need:
1 jar Peppadew peppers
1 small can tuna
Juice of ½ lemon
1 heaped tablespoon crème fraîche
1 stick celery, cut into tiny dice
½ shallot, cut into tiny dice
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley
Easy as anything: just mix everything except the Peppadews thoroughly in a bowl, and use a teaspoon to stuff the peppers with the mixture. Chill before serving.
This is a lovely starter for lazy days when you’re eating outdoors. I like to dibble crudités (especially sweet batons of carrot) and good bread in this tuna dip. It’s also very good spread on toast or crostini, and, cold or warmed through, makes a good strong sauce to dollop on bland cooked fish.
Apologies for the horrendous photo – by the time I realised how rubbish this looked, the bowl had been licked clean, so there was nothing to photograph.
To serve two as a starter with crudités and bread, you’ll need:
1 small can tuna (in oil, brine or spring water), drained 2 anchovies 2 teaspoons Marsala 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1 heaped teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard ½ teaspoon fennel seed 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage 1 teaspoon thyme 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint 1 small clove of garlic, crushed 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ½ teaspoon honey
Bash the fennel seed lightly in a pestle and mortar, and chop the herbs. Chop the anchovies very finely. Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well until the dip ingredients all come together to form a rough paste. Add a little more olive oil if you prefer a looser texture, and taste for seasoning. Serve chilled as a dip or crostini topping, or warm through in a small saucepan to use as a sauce.
This salad is brilliant at barbecues, where it’s a great light, sunshine-filled alternative to any giant hunks of charred meat you might be serving. It’s full of assertive flavours – the lemon, deliciously sweet peppers and raw onion, the celery and, of course, the tuna. It’s also very simple, and only takes a few minutes to throw together.
I’m a lazy cook. I very, very seldom cook beans from scratch – they’re very cheap to buy in cans, and in a salad like this the borlotti beans don’t suffer at all from coming out of a tin. If you prefer to use dried beans, you’ll need to soak them overnight, then boil for ten minutes. Take the pan off the heat and leave the beans to soak in their cooking water for two hours. Borlotti beans are a lovely little legume. They’re related to the kidney bean, and they have a lovely creamy texture and a slightly sweet taste. If you can’t find any, try making this with cannellini beans, which make a good alternative. To make a large bowl, big enough for a large family barbecue, you’ll need:
2 cans tuna in spring water 1 large sweet onion (a Vidalia or other sweet salad onion is excellent in this dish) 1 handful fresh parsley 1 plump clove garlic 1 can borlotti beans 5 stalks from a celery heart 1 orange pepper 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Juice of ½ a lemon Salt and pepper
Chop the onion into quarters and slice finely. Mince the parsley and cut the celery and pepper into small dice. Crush the garlic and flake the tuna. Put the beans in a sieve and rinse them under cold running water.
Toss all the prepared ingredients together in a large bowl with the olive oil, lemon and seasoning, and cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge for an hour before serving for the flavours to mingle.