I don’t know about you, but after the spring holidays I am ready for a light meal for dinner. My go-to is typically pasta but as usual, I wanted something different that was still quick and satisfying. Tonight, it was gourmet tuna melts for dinner. What makes them different? I’m all about layering of flavors, so I start with good slices of bread: raisin, cranberry and walnut bread for me and rye bread for David. The bread slices get a light smear of herb mayonnaise along with some thin slices of cucumber and a handful of sunflower sprouts. Then the tuna salad is layered on top and it’s finished with some grated sharp cheddar cheese. All of this goodness gets broiled in the toaster oven (or oven broiler) until the cheese is bubbly and golden and served with some sliced “pink lady” apples. The meal takes about 20 minutes to prepare and tastes phenomenal with all the different layers of flavor! And how can you go wrong with melted cheese on top?
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this simple and satisfying dinner. I buy solid white albacore tuna packed in water, but you can use your favorite style of canned tuna. If you really wanted to make this sandwich even more gourmet, you could use a small filet of fresh tuna, seared in a skillet, cooled and shredded with a fork. But our mission is an easy weeknight meal so it’s canned tuna from the pantry. I glammed up this batch by using sashimi-grade, wild-caught canned tuna packed in olive oil – a new find I had to try, and a recommended splurge. As far as the tuna fish recipe, I like to keep it simple by using few ingredients: mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, onions, celery, parsley, salt and pepper. The vinegar helps cut any fishy taste; you can use any white vinegar you have on hand. I like apple cider vinegar because it is slightly sweet; rice wine vinegar is also good. I am lucky enough to find sunflower sprouts at my local grocery store (who knew, up here in mountain suburbia) – they are meaty with a crisp, nutty taste. If you can’t find them, you can use any large-leaf sprout, Mâche or even baby greens.
Another valuable trick I learned in the catering world is to make your sauce first – get all the seasonings right and then add your main ingredient. This trick works for many dishes: pasta salad, egg salad, potato salad and tuna salad. It allows you to easily get the flavors just right without having to stir (sometimes delicate ingredients) too much, which can cause the main ingredient to break into unwanted pieces.
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Look for my post later this week in celebration of Cinco de Mayo: Carne Seca, a slow-cooked meal. Eat well and share the love!
Gourmet Tuna Melt
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 tablespoon diced celery
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 seven ounce can solid white albacore tuna fish,packed in water
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon dried fine herbs (parsley, tarragon, chervil & chives)
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
2 slices of your favorite good bread (recommend Raisin & Cranberry bread or Rye bread)
8 to 10 thin slices of cucumber
½ cup sunflower sprouts (or any broad-leaf sprout, Mâche or baby greens)
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Tuna Salad – In a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, onion, celery, parsley, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper and mix well. Drain the tuna fish and add to the bowl. Stir well with a fork, leaving some large chunks of tuna.
Herb Mayonnaise – Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and mix well.
Assemble Sandwiches – Very lightly toast both slices of bread. Spread mayonnaise on both pieces of bread and layer each with the half of the cucumbers, sprouts, tuna fish and top with grated cheese.
Place under a broiler until cheese is bubbly and lightly golden. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
Serve with sliced apples or potato chips.