Stuffed tomatoes seem so elegant.
Yet, hey … are fast and simple to prepare. Cold. Tasty.
Ugo Allesina, Executive Chef at Prego Ristorante in Irvine, takes a no-cook approach to stuffed tomatoes.
The Italian-born chef prepares a version of fish tartar for the tomato’s filling; he shows off finely diced raw sushi-grade yellowfin tuna in the salad-like concoction. Watch the video to see Ugo’s helpful hints.
Sushi-grade raw yellowfin tuna, ah, it’s gorgeous, but …
“In Italy you can go to a bottega (shop) and buy beautiful (canned) tuna in olive oil with bay leaves and juniper berries … they package it in glass jars and you buy it by the pound,” he said in a joyous tone when I asked if home cooks could substitute canned tuna.
Yes was the answer. You have Allesina’s blessing to use drained canned tuna packed in olive oil if you prefer it to raw ahi.
But having grown up in the Piemonte region of Italy, he wishes you had access to that delectable, by-the-pound Italian tuna in a glass jar.
Yield: 4 stuffed tomatoes
4 medium-large, ripe tomatoes
3 hard-cooked eggs, chilled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
8 anchovy fillets, divided use
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 ounces well-chilled sushi-grade yellowfin tuna (ahi)
Garnish: 4 black imported olives
4 large butter lettuce leaves
1. Slice tops off tomatoes and reserve. Cut a shallow slice off the bottom of the tomatoes so that they can sit upright. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from inside the tomatoes. Sprinkle a little salt inside the tomatoes and turn them cut-side down on paper towels to drain.
2. Peel and chop eggs into small pieces. Place in medium-size bowl. Add mayonnaise. Chop 4 anchovies with the capers; add to bowl. Add lemon juice. Stir to combine. Mixture can be prepared to this point and chilled.
3. Just before stuffing and serving the tomatoes, finely dice (1/4-inch) the raw tuna. Add to mayonnaise mixture and toss to combine. Taste and add salt if needed (anchovies and capers are salty). Spoon mixture into tomatoes and top each with reserved tomato tops.
4. Serve each stuffed tomatoes atop a butter lettuce leaf and garnish each with an olive and anchovy fillet.
Source: Ugo Allesina, Executive Chef, Prego Ristorante, Irvine
18420 Von Karman Ave. Irvine, CA 92612
949 – 553-1333
You gotta try Chef Ugo’s handmade grissini. He cuts the dough using the fettuccine attachment of the pasta machine.
Too good. And great with the stuffed tomatoes.