Spícy Roasted Vegetable and Tuna Canapés

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    8 to 10

    ; makes about 2 dozen canapes

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Here, earthy caramelized vegetables, chunks of oil-packed tuna, tiny cubes of Gruyère-type cheese, and pitted chopped olives are mixed and piled on a small baguette slice. It’s the treatment of the bread slice that makes this dish so special. First it’s dipped on one side only in a spicy liquid; only then is the well-blended topping added.

The best rendition of this Tunisian dish occurs when the cook allows all the roasted chopped vegetables to drain overnight. This slow draining creates intense flavor. The preserved oily vegetable drippings are blended with a dose of fiery hot sauce, to be used as the dipping medium for the bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 red (bell) pepper
  • 2 small Italian frying peppers
  • 2 large, firm red ripe tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • ounces tuna, packed in oil
  • 1 tablespoon small Spanish salt-cured capers, soaked and drained
  • ½ cup finely diced Gruyère cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pulverized dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 2 pinches of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red chile sauce, such as homemade harissa, Indonesian sambal oelek, or Turkish red pepper sauce (see Mail Order Sources)
  • 1 tablespoon cider or rice vinegar
  • Salt
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs
  • 18 niçoise-type olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 day-old baguette, cut into 24 thin slices

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the bell pepper, frying peppers, tomatoes, and garlic on a baking sheet. Roast until soft and tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the vegetables; peel, seed, core, and dice the tomatoes. Peel, and crush the garlic. Place the vegetables and garlic in a plastic colander set over a bowl. Let drain in a cool place or in the refrigerator overnight. Be sure to reserve the juices that collect underneath.
  3. The following day, drain the tuna and crumble into a bowl. Rinse and drain the capers. Add the capers, roasted vegetables, cheese, mint, caraway, and coriander to the tuna.
  4. Combine ½ cup of the drained vegetable juices with the olive oil, chile sauce, vinegar, and salt to taste. If necessary add a little more of the juices to thin the dressing.
  5. Peel the eggs, halve lengthwise, and thinly slice. Rinse, pit, and slice the olives. Gently toss the eggs and olives with the cilantro, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside, if necessary, for up to 30 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, dip the bread slices, on one side only for just a few seconds, into the prepared harissa dressing. Arrange wet side-up on a serving plate. Spoon a small amount of the prepared vegetable-tuna mixture onto each slice. Top with a little of the egg-olive mixture and serve at once.

Variation

Tunisian Bread Salad

Tunisian cooks make a version of the Greek riganatha or the Italian panzanella with stale bread and the same topping as above. It’s called bahriya, and it is delicious. Dice the bread, toss with the prepared harissa dressing, place on a serving dish, top with the roasted vegetables, cheese, tuna, and olives and toss again; garnish with eggs and capers and serve.