Tuna Melt

Sure, to some, a tuna melt is a tuna melt is a tuna melt. But when I was growing up back in Swansea, MA, it was my personal manna. During seventh and eighth grades, we were on double sessions, so all of us kids were on our own for lunch. My best friend Bobby Ledoux and I ate tuna melts about three days a week, before heading off to school. I gussied them up with all kinds of fold-ins: mustard, onions, relish, olives, and just about every spice in the cabinet. Eventually my tuna-melt phase petered out, only to be replaced by my pizza-loving extravaganza in high school. Nowadays, when I’m rooting around the pantry for something to eat, I delight myself all over again when I realize I’m just a few ingredients away from feeling like 13 again.–Jennifer Chandler

LC Any Which Way Note

As the author notes in her book, you can fly fancy free with regard to the classic tuna melt sandwich. Her suggestions, for starters anyways, include reaching for rye bread or split English muffins instead of the usual white bread and substituting Swiss cheese or Pepper Jack for the Cheddar. While we’re on the topic of cheese, if you’re one of those types who simply can’t get enough cheese, then you already know to make sure the slices are ample so as to drape across the entire sandwich. Practice makes perfect. Best get started.

Tuna Melt Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (5 ounces each) tuna, preferably oil-packed, drained and flaked
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery (about 1 stalk)
  • 1 finely diced onion, tablespoon
  • Up to 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Up to 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices crusty white or sourdough bread, lightly toasted
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 4 slices Cheddar cheese

Directions

  • 1. To make the tuna melts, start by preheating the broiler.
  • 2. In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, celery, onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and oregano until well combined. Taste and add a little more of any particular ingredient as you deem fit. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet. Spread 1/4 of the tuna salad onto each slice and top with 2 tomato slices and a slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling and you simply can’t resist it any longer, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve the tuna melts piping hot.
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Brenda Carleton

Oct 12, 2010

This is a great tuna salad recipe. Not spectacular as far as tuna salad goes, but the lemon juice, zest and oregano were great little additions that elevated this normally homey humble dish. As I am a texture person, I used the celery for some crunch. Although the yellow onion was good, I might try red onion next time for a bit of sweetness. The juicy fresh tomato slices and Cheddar cheese made for a substantial lunch. I rather quite enjoyed it and will definitely be making it again.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Oct 12, 2010

I looked over the simple steps and simple ingredients to this sandwich. I had everything in my kitchen and several house guests, so I decided why not try it for lunch! The tuna melt was delicious! The hint of lemon zest, juice, and oregano was perfect. I didn’t know tuna salad could be so good. I made half of the melts on rye bread and half on sourdough bread—both were very good. So fast to assemble and a perfect little sandwich for my recipe file!


Comments
Comments
  1. David Leite says:

    So, everyone, what memories do you have about tuna melts? What is your favorite combo that lurks on a raft of melted cheese? ‘Fess up.

    • Ah, the glorious tuna melt! If I could build a temple to it, I would. It is the ultimate comfort food and can solve myriad problems. I’ve just finished writing a novel and the main character is obsessed with tuna melts—she can eat anything, anywhere in the world, but her favorite is always a tuna melt.

      My take would be to eliminate the celery and add preserved ginger slices (as comes with sushi). Believe me—its to die for. Tuna melts forever!

  2. Robin says:

    This post makes me recall my own tuna melt phase in high school. I wasn’t cooking then, but I ate lots of them at an ice cream shop called Swensons. It was usually followed by a chocolate shake. Thanks for the post!

  3. Karen says:

    Tuna melt is great BUT – down yonder in New Orleans we ate either tuna po’boys dressed, or jammed an entire pack of potato chips between the tuna and the bread and SMASH! Tuna Delight!!

  4. Casey says:

    So you’re not a die-hard fan of using an English muffin as the base of your tuna melt? Those nooks and crannies that soak up the mayo under the broiler heat are a crucial component of my TM obsession.

    The cats would argue that the tuna is the best part of making this sandwich, however.

  5. I recently tried a tuna melt recipe that called for fresh ahi for the first time—I’ll always love the classic canned tuna version, but this fresh variety wasn’t bad either. I really enjoyed the Simply Suppers cookbook, I had the opportunity to review it last month. Many thanks for linking to my Meat Loaf Patty Melt Panini!

  6. Christine says:

    Loved your story about eating tuna melts in 7th/8th grade. Reminded me of the tuna sandwich lunches on Wednesday and Friday. My, how the church has changed since then. We would open our sandwiches, then take Granny Goose potato chips, the largest ones in the bag, and top the tuna with the chips. Then smashed them together with the slices of wheat bread. Mom never let us eat Wonder Bread, go figure. At home, we loved tuna melts, and we used either Monterey Jack or Longhorn cheddar. Mom didn’t like American. Somehow she made an excuse for Velveeta, of all things! I took a cue from the burger patty melts, and put some grilled onions on top. Ooh, what flavor. Still love making them. Thanks so much!

  7. RisaG says:

    I like the use of lemon zest in the tuna. I put curry powder in my tuna salad and have for over 25 years. I started doing it when I was making lunch for myself in 1983. It was my first 9-5 job and lunch was getting boring. I took a jar of commercial mild curry powder out of my mom’s pantry and sprinkled in the tuna. Well, it was a hit with me and my dad (who snuck some out of the refrigerator).

    The tuna melt is a great sandwich.

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