I’ve always liked the idea of tuna melts. I really do, but you know, sometimes when you heat canned tuna, it develops an unpleasant fishy taste. The Goddess hates fishy. The Latin Lover hates fishy. But, I’m happy to tell you, this works well. It’s quick to fix and doesn’t heat up the kitchen, when the temperature outside soars…and it’s delicious. This is a simple dish. It can be made almost at a moments notice, because most of us have the ingredients on hand. If not, you might want to race out and get some cans of tuna for your pantry.
I’m not much of a fan of tuna loaf or casserole. When canned tuna is heated, I find it tends to get a bit fishy-tasting. These tuna melts don’t have that problem. The reason this works, is because the cheese and tomatoes “protect” the tuna salad from becoming really hot. Plus, it flavors the tuna nicely, too. Use a good, substantial bread, and a cheese that melts well. I like Fontina, Gouda or Monterey Jack, but cheddar or provolone works, too. My mother used Velveeta™ and I must say, they were pretty terrific, too. The oregano is an atypical addition, but it’s really quite nice. If you don’t like it, omit it, but please try it at least once.
How to: Turn the broiler on before you begin to prepare these. These go together very quickly. Mince the onions, capers and pickles very finely. Make certain you drain the capers and pickles extremely well. I usually put them on paper toweling and give them a little press. Add to the bowl, along with the tuna, mayo, mustard and a few grinds of black pepper. Give it a good stir. At this point, we have a basic tuna salad. When you’re ready to make the tuna melts, spread about 1/4-1/2 cup of the tuna salad evenly over each slice of bread (the amount you use will depend on the size of the slice of bread) and place 2 slices of tomato on top of the tuna. Top with a good sprinkle of the shredded cheese and then top with 1-2 slices of cheese. Slide the pan under the broiler (as close to the broiler unit as possible) for 2-4 minutes or until the cheese melts nicely. You don’t really want the tuna to heat up. I like to sprinkle each “melt” with some paprika, just before serving. A sprinkle of snipped chives is nice, too. That’s it. They’re ready to enjoy.
It will take about 4-5 smaller cans of tuna for this. Fontina, Gouda or Jack cheeses work very well for these lovelies. You can easily double or triple this recipe.
- About 1 1/2 cups solid white water-packed tuna, extremely well-drained
- 1/3-1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use “light”)
- 1/3 cup finely minced red or Vidalia onion
- 2 tablespoons very finely minced, well-drained dill pickles
- 1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and minced
- Zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled between your fingers
- 1/4 teaspoon ground celery seeds (optional, but a nice addition)
- 4 slices crusty bread
- 8 relatively thin slices tomato
- 4-8 slices Fontina, Gouda or Jack
- Smoked sweet or Hungarian paprika (optional)
Heat broiler, with the rack closest to the heating element.
In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, onion, pickles, capers, lemon zest and juice, Dijon mustard, pepper, celery seeds and oregano; stir until thoroughly combined.
Arrange bread on a baking sheet; smear a little mayonnaise on each slice. Divide tuna salad evenly among slices. Top each with 2 slices tomato and 1 slice cheese. Broil until cheese is golden brown and bubbling, 2 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired and serve immediately.
NOTE: You may have some of the tuna salad leftover. Will keep, in the fridge, for at least 3 days.
Tuna Melt Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved.