This tuna stuffed avocado is a Peruvian favorite that's incredibly easy to prepare. It's a delicious, simple combination of flavors and makes a great light, no-cook lunch or appetizer.
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Many years ago now, I made a relatively last minute trip to Peru for around 10 days. As I ended one job, I managed to arrange a bit of time off before I started the next, so I decided to travel somewhere I had always wanted to go and Peru was high on the list. I enjoyed it so much I went again a few years later.
While I knew I would probably be blown away by the sights (and I was), I didn't really have an appreciation of what the food might be like at that time. I was in for a delicious surprise as there was so much to enjoy.
Alongside ceviche overlooking the ocean in Lima, one of the many meals that sticks in my mind was having palta rellena in a little cafe perched above the main square in Cusco. It's a simple yet tasty dish that's perfect to make at home, too.
What does palta rellena mean?
For many Spanish speakers and learners, the word you may know for avocado is "aguacate". This name comes from Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs and still spoken in some parts of Mexico today. This is the word that has travelled to Spain as the name for avocados in Castillian Spanish.
However in other parts of the Spanish speaking word it goes by other names. In Cuba it is called "pagua" and in Peru, Bolivia and Chile it goes by "palta" which was the Incan name.
"Rellena" is a little easier and means "filled" or "stuffed" in Spanish. This dish comes in a few forms, as that stuffing comes in a few forms, but most keep it simple.
How to make palta rellena
When I say most keep it simple, I'm really not kidding! One of the best things about using frozen vegetables for this is you don't even need to cook or chop them (though you can briefly cook, if you prefer).
You simply mix together all the filling ingredients then adjust the seasoning to taste. I like the mayo relatively light, but you can add a little more, if you prefer.
Then you halve the avocado and peel off the skin - this makes it easier to eat. Rub the avocado with lemon or lime juice. This helps to stop browning, plus it's tasty, too. Fill the cavity from the stone with the tuna mixture and that's it.
You can serve it with some lettuce and tomato on the side (which conveniently also help stop the avocado rolling about too much).
Top tip: prepare the filling first (or prep ahead)
To minimize how much the avocado might brown, prepare the filling first (and also any sides). You can even mix up the filling ahead of time - it will keep a day or two in the fridge.
You can even make extra to serve over a couple days, or use the filling for other things, like in a sandwich or to stuff a baked potato.
Ways to vary this dish
While there's not a lot to this easy recipe, you can vary it a little, such as:
- Try other bases for the filling - common options are shredded, cooked chicken or shrimp.
- Try other or more vegetables, such as finely chopped cooked carrot, celery and/or onion. In Chile, for example, you typically don't include peas and corn but instead a little very finely chopped onion. Some versions include potato in the mixture as well.
- You can add toppings, such as some sliced hard boiled egg or olives, or serve some on the side.
- If you don't like mayonnaise, you can also use a little sour cream.
This tuna stuffed avocado is quick and easy to prepare with only a few tasty ingredients (that are on the healthier side, too). The simply filling pairs so well with the creamy avocado underneath. It's a great light lunch or appetizer, even without the views I first enjoyed it with. Eating well was hardly so easy.
Try these other tasty lunch ideas:
- Caprese focaccia sandwich
- Salmon poke bowl
- Vietnamese chicken salad
- Causa rellena, another Peruvian classic - this time with potatoes and tuna
- Plus get more lunch recipes in the archives.
Tuna stuffed avocado (palta rellena de atun)
- 2.8 oz canned tuna 1 small can - I suggest in oil, albacore
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or a little more, to taste
- 2 tablespoon peas eg frozen, defrosted
- 2 tablespoon corn eg frozen, defrosted
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 pinch black pepper or a little more, to taste
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 avocado
- 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice approx
To serve (optional)
- 2 lettuce leaves approx
- 6 cherry tomatoes approx
- Drain any excess liquid from the tuna and mix in a small bowl with the mayonnaise, peas, corn, parsley and a little salt and pepper. Mix so everything is well combined and set aside.
- Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and peel each half. Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice onto each side and rub in (just so it’s lightly coated).
- Place a lettuce leaf on two plates and halve the cherry tomatoes. Place a half of avocado on top of the lettuce so that it helps keep it steady and place the tomato halves around it. Stuff the cavity from the stone on each half of the avocado with the tuna mixture and serve.
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This was originally shared in June 2018 as a sponsored post written on behalf of Blue Harbor, but has since been updated, including new photos and added video.