Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tuna Melt

Tuna salad sandwiches are as much a staple in a New York Deli and New Jersey Diner as pimento cheese sandwiches are in the south.  When I moved to Nashville and was introduced to the southern version of my childhood favorite, it was difficult for me to embrace.  The sweet southern tuna salad was tasty, but I missed the savory flavor and crunch of my all-time favorite.  After introducing my tuna salad to southern friends, it quickly became an expected treat when visiting my home and one of my most requested recipes. 

Preparing a perfect Tuna Melt takes a little more technique than melting a piece of cheese on a tuna sandwich, so I thought I would share my simple technique which yields a crispy, buttery and delicious bread, warm melted cheese and cool tuna salad.....just the way I like it.

Tuna salad is something I can assemble quickly and always have the ingredients on hand, but one of the secrets to this delicious delicacy is preparing it a day ahead and allowing the flavors to marry.

Tuna Salad Ingredients:
§     2 6-ounce cans of white meat tuna packed in water, drained
§     3 stalks of celery, minced
§     1/3 cup Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise  (I love mayonnaise, so I may add up to 1/2 cup)
§     3 tablespoons Miracle Whip (my secret ingredient)
§     1 tablespoon Freshly squeezed lemon juice
§     1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium sized mixing bowl add drained tuna and break up with a fork. 
Add celery, Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, lemon juice and salt and combine well.  I do not use the low fat or low calorie mayonnaise because it does not taste as good.  I prefer you use less, but use the real thing.  The Miracle Whip is my secret ingredient and provides another layer of flavor.
The tuna salad is ready to eat, but for maximum flavor, prepare a day (or a few hours) ahead, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
I like onion on my tuna sandwiches but I don't put onion in the tuna salad.  Without onion, the tuna stays fresh in the refrigerator much longer and does not get as watery, so I place a slice of onion directly on my sandwich.
Tuna Melt Ingredients:
§     Sliced bread (white, wheat, rye, whole grain, Hawaiian or brioche)  
§     2 slices of cheese for each slice of bread  (I use Cheddar or Colby but use what you like)
§     Paprika

Optional Ingredient:
§     Onion slices

Butter one side of the bread, place butter side down onto a frying pan and place a slice of cheese on the bread. 

Over a medium low flame, grill the bread while melting the cheese.  When nicely browned, remove from heat and spread the tuna salad over the top of the melted cheese. 

Be sure to cover the entire slice of bread from corner to corner. 

Cover with another slice of cheese. 

Sprinkle lightly with paprika for added color and place under the broiler for approximately one minute, until melted. 

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to TunaMelt. Enjoy!


  1. Love it! Another one of my favorite lunches at Rhonda's.

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