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Recipes from Sicily: Tonno all’Eoliana - Aeolian-style Marinated Tuna with Capers & Fresh Tomato

Tuna fresh off the fishing boat in Vulcano
Tuna fresh off the fishing boat

Capers, these spicy, pungent little buds are commonly found in Sicilian cooking, seeing as they are cultivated on the island of Pantelleria (of the famous Passito de Pantelleria) and of course, in the Aeolian Islands.

Large, pickled ones, almost the size of olives, can be served as part of an aperitivo, such as this simply stunning aperitivo we enjoyed at Hotel Signum on the island of Salina. The smaller ones can be found salted, ready to add a pungent, salty tang to your cooking!

Aperitivo at Hotel Signum Salina
Semi-dried tomatoes and Capers at Aperitivo at Hotel Signum Salina
Aperitivo at Hotel Signum, Salina
Could there be a more perfect setting for Aperitivo in the whole Aeolian?!

This was a recipe again inspired by the ingredients we had on board, a mix of Sicilian flavours. The fresh tomatoes provide a refreshing counterpoint to cut through the richness of the olive-oily tuna.

This recipe goes beautifully with crisp, unoaked white wines with a lemony, mineral persuasion, such as the classic Mediterranean grape, Vermentino - like this organic example, "Tribbiera Blanc" from Domaine Culombu, on the island of Corsica.

A nice glass of crisp Vermentino
Fresh fish with a glass of Vermentino

The Aeolian islands are, by the way, a total vibe - especially Alicudi which was the most laid back of all. What makes it Aeolian style? Just keep it extremely simple and fresh and you're doing it right.



Plenty of Extra virgin olive oil

1 Lemon, juice and zest

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp Capers

Handful Basil and/or parsley, chopped

Salt & Pepper

Red onion, thinly sliced

Fennel, thinly sliced

Tomatoes - ideally cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.


- Create a marinade out of roughly 5 tbsp of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon (not too much otherwise you'll create a ceviche!), crushed garlic, chopped herbs, capers, salt and pepper.

- Cover the tuna steaks with the marinade and leave for 30 mins or longer, in the fridge. Basting /turning over once of twice.

- In a pan with some olive oil, sauté the sliced onion and fennel until slightly softened, them remove.

- Once the tuna has marinated, add the steaks to a hot pan for 2 minutes each side, then remove.

- Pour the left over marinade into the pan and cook it through/ reduce it for 1-2 minutes.

- Serve with the fennel / onion mixture as a base, topped with the tuna steaks, and fresh, chopped cherry tomatoes, then pour the cooked marinade over everything.


I have put together a special offer case of wines to pair with these three Sicilian recipes. Get hold of your case here!


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