Tuna Toast with Tomatoes and Arugula is a simple Italy-inspired appetizer made with tuna, tomatoes, arugula, and extra virgin olive oil, using the most quality ingredients you can find. This can be made as a crostini based appetizer, or with your favorite toasted bread.
The secret to this recipe is to find the freshest and highest quality ingredients possible.
I’m still in awe with the food I taste when in Italy. In fact, every single time I’ve had the honor of visiting this country I’m blown away by the food. I’m not talking about complicated dishes with specialty ingredients. It’s things like the comfort and simplicity of the risottos in Northern Italy, the freshness of the seafood in Sicily, the purity of Prosciutto di San Daniele from the Northeast. It’s the everyday simple foods that stay in my mind for days, and even years after a visit.
And it’s dishes like this from Puglia, that have simple ingredients to them, that I’m still drooling over.
As we said this is simple.
- Great bread
- Fresh tomatoes
- Spicy arugula
- Good canned tuna
- High quality olive oil
- Finishing salt.
The traditional tuna toast of Puglia comes on a whole wheat crostini called Frise or Friselle. The bread is half-baked, then cut open in half, then baked again until hard. Traditionally a peasant food, you still see Frise served throughout the region. If you can’t find a whole wheat Frise, then go with a baguette.
If you feel like making your own Frise, check out this recipe (and let me know your thoughts!). I kept it easy for myself with a fresh baguette cut into thick slices, bruschetta style.
Just brush olive oil on the slices and cook them in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until golden.
Cherry tomatoes are best for this dish. Remove the stem and cut them in half. When selecting cherry tomatoes, they should be soft, but not squishy. That is a good indication of a sweet ripe cherry tomatoe.
Fresh arugula is delicious. Slightly peppery, this makes the dish. Asian green mixes are another option if you do not like arugula. Fresh Arugula is best.
The tuna is important, since it is one of a few ingredients, so don’t just use the cheap canned kind found at every supermarket across the country. Look specifically for tuna packed in oil (with or without salt). The texture and flavor are more creamy then canned tuna packed in water.
I know I know, this tuna isn’t even from Italy (it’s from Spain), but it did come highly recommended by the woman at the specialty store I purchased it from. Plus it had a cute old barefoot fisherman smoking a pipe on the can. He looks happy.
The extra virgin olive oil you use also must be the very best quality. Remember, the fewer ingredients you use in a recipe, the more important it is to have each one of the best quality you can get your hands on. I used Oregon Olive Mill’s Frantoio since I’m loving the way it’s tasting right now (it has a great spicy finish that’s fantastic on these toasts!). Another variety of olive oil that works great is arbequina. It’s fresh, and fruity brightening up the dish.
Chefs Tip – Generic versions of olive oil (including extra virgin) can taste watery. A good finishing olive oil is great to have in your pantry. But use fresh oil within a year of opening it (at the latest).
I also topped the toasts with a pinch of Maldon Finishing Salt. It’s those final touches you just can’t skimp on! Don’t have finishing salt? Any large course grain kosher salt will work too.
More Italy inspired recipes:
Tuna Toast Recipe with Tomatoes and Arugula
I’m not gonna lie, our experiment was pretty darn awesome! The bread wasn’t quite the consistency as the chewy inside and crusty outside of the Frise from Puglia, but it did the trick. Don’t be shy with the olive oil, pour it on proudly!
As far as wine, the couple of times I’ve had this now we’ve served it with a crisp fruity dry rosé. You should still be able to find your fair share of rosé around these parts, and the fruity red berry flavors go great with the sweet tomatoes and rich tuna.
John Efstathiou says
Super easy and very delicious!
I love that tin of tuna! Definitely a happy fisherman. I make a version of this using chopped and deseeded ripe tomatoes mixed with a grated bulb of garlic and good olive oil. Mix it in to the tuna with a splash of vinegar, pink salt and coarse black pepper. Served on toasted sourdough with a wedge of lemon. I think I’d like to try it with the bread you suggest x