10 April 2014

Tuna Melt - An American Diner Classic

Tuna Melt

Tuna melts were not on the menu at our house. My first one was served to me by the woman who would become my mother-in-law. The first time she set one before me, I had my doubts: 1) Hot tuna salad? 2) Hard-cooked egg mixed with tuna? 3) Cheese on tuna? Hey, what can I say, I was very young!

I often think of that dear lady and, during a recent illness, was remembering some of the foods she used to make for me, wishing she were here now to pamper me. So I decided to make a tuna melt in her honor. I even put the egg in it. The capers and dill are my own little touches, two things I use a lot.

I used to eat nothing but solid white albacore tuna, but then I learned that chunk light has a fraction of the mercury. I choose water-packed because I like thoroughly drained tuna, and oil-packed tuna loses a lot of its omega-3 fatty acids when you drain it. You can use whatever kind of tuna you prefer; I don't like to get too dogmatic about it!

What are your favorite things to eat when you're not feeling well?

Tuna Melt Sandwiches

(Makes 4 open-face sandwiches, 2 servings)

1 5-ounce can chunk light tuna packed in water, drained
1 large hard-cooked egg, diced
2 tablespoons diced celery
2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons diced sweet pickle
1 tablespoon minced red onion, optional
1 teaspoon capers, drained and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon country Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
A squeeze of lemon
4 toasted slices of English Muffin Toasting Bread (or 4 toasted English muffin halves)
Sliced tomato, optional
Mayonnaise to spread on bread
1 cup shredded medium cheddar

1 In 1-quart bowl, stir together tuna, egg, vegetables, capers, mayonnaise, mustard, dill, pepper and lemon juice.

2 Toast the English muffins or bread; spread with mayonnaise. Lay on a slice or two of tomato, if you like. Top with tuna salad, then with shredded cheese.

3 Place on a foil-lined heavy-duty quarter sheet pan (everyone needs to have three or four of these handy little pans!). Heat under the broiler or in toaster oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.


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24 comments:

Sunday Taylor said...

Tuna melts are one of my favorite comfort foods. I grew up on them. I also love grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for another comforting meal when I am feeling under the weather. Love your blog! So happy to have discovered it. I am also a foodie and cooking is one of my passions!

NanaDiana said...

I have not had a tuna melt in 25 years I bet! lol I had forgotten about them. My go-to food when anyone is "recovering" is home made French toast with just butter and no syrup. xo Diana

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sunday, thank you so much! Love *your* blog, too! A grilled cheese with tomato soup would be wonderfully comforting as well.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Diana, I think you've got something there! Next time someone is "recovering" I'm going to make French toast with butter and no syrup. That would be great!

belleau kitchen said...

such simple comfort food but these are always the tastiest and it's nice to see them on show in all their glory... I love all that melting cheese!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Dom! I can never resist melting cheese!

Caroline Taylor said...

Such a classic, can't go wrong with it!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

So true, Caroline. If you've got bread and cheese, anything else is just icing on the cake!

Angie Schneider said...

It sure looks very comforting and delicious with the combo of cheese and tuna.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Angie! I do love comfort food!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

He’s baaaa-ack! Missed your blog the last couple of weeks – on account of I was skinny skiing mountains in Heidi-ho (Idaho) and romping around states in between. And now I arrive back with the same dilemma you faced on first encounter with tuna melt. The fresh subtle savory organics of tuna fish with the processed feel of melted cheese? Seems counterintuitive. Not a good match in the imagination. But I’m willing to be persuaded. As for comfort food in convalescence: tomato cheese on toast. Pure association, as it’s what mommy used to make. And I think the association was more one of staying home from school than being nursed back to health. Can’t remember feeling unhealthy, just free! Anyway, I still toast the end crust pieces of a loaf of cinnamon swirl raisin bread, butter it, and pour Velveeta cheese melted in tomato soup over it. Yeah, I know, I said I don’t eat many breads – and I don’t – but this is one of the exceptions.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Welcome back, Sully! Your convalescent comfort food sounds like an extra-fun queso fundido. I just had a realization when you said you felt free when you stayed home from school - I think the reason I liked staying home "sick" was because, as an introvert who requires lots of alone time, I got "peopled out" at school!

Danielle @ theCHARMITspot said...

Yummy! Your recipe sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Danielle! Hope you'll try it soon.

Sippity Sup said...

I do like to get dogmatic about it. Tuna Melts that is... GREG

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Ha! Truth be told, Greg, I like to get a little dogmatic from time to time!

LANA said...

Love tuna melts, I use muenster cheese atop tuna on an english muffin. Like the dill idea.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Lana, thanks for reminding me about muenster - don't know why I never think to get it!

Brooks said...

I can't decide if I like a tuna melt open face, or sandwiched. Either way, the crispy, cheesy splendor with the tuna tang brings a spot of sunshine to a gray day. Do I see you garnished your lovely melt with a sprinkle of dried dill? Nice touch, Jean!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Yes, Brooks, that's dill. I tend to go a little crazy with dill, especially in springtime!

Charles said...

I've never had a tuna melt before... well, not an official one. I think I've had something similar but it was just something I threw together very quickly... like, "oh, open can of tuna, ok, will use a bit of that, throw on some cheese, into the microwave for a 20 second nuke, heeeey!", but I never realised there was an official sandwich (melt?!). Looks great!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Yes, it is an "official" sandwich, Charles! Maybe that's how all "classics" start, they just happen naturally!

Pat said...

I'm going to have to try this soon. I like tuna and I'm always ready to try a new recipe.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Pat, do let me know how you like it! I was in the mood for tuna melts today, but I was out of tuna.

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