Piquillos Rellenos de Atún (Tuna-stuffed Piquillo Peppers)
Makes about ten peppers.
5 ounces sashimi-quality tuna, trimmed
Coarse sea salt
1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
1 slice peeled fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter
2 sprigs Italian parsley
3 black peppercorns
8 to 9 tablespoons extra-virgin Spanish olive oil, plus additional oil for sautéing
1 leek, white part only, minced
2 tablespoons minced carrot
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion, white part only
1 medium beefsteak tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 jar (6 to 7 ounces) imported wood-fired piquillo peppers, drained (available from Kitchen Market, 218 Eighth Ave., near 21st St.; 212-243-4433)
1 tablespoon pitted, minced black olives
Maldon sea salt
1 generous handful mâche
Cut the tuna into 1/2-inch-thick slices and coat both sides with 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt. Set aside for 5 minutes, then rinse the tuna and pat dry.
Put the celery, ginger, parsley, peppercorns, and 5 tablespoons olive oil in a blender and purée. Place the tuna in a bowl and coat with the puréed marinade. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Remove the tuna from the marinade and scrape off the excess marinade before cutting the tuna into very small cubes.
Sweat the leek in 2 teaspoons oil in a sauté pan over medium heat until tender, add carrot, and cook for 2 minutes. Season to taste with coarse sea salt. Add sherry vinegar and 3 tablespoons oil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
Mix the diced tuna with the scallion, the tomato, and the carrot-leek mixture. Fold together gently until combined. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Trim the peppers and carefully pack them with the tuna mixture, taking care not to tear the peppers, as they are very soft.
Serve the peppers topped with olives, Maldon sea salt, and a little mâche.