The ultimate tuna melt: Take this classic diner dish to the next level


You rarely find tuna melts on the menus of fine-dining establishments, but those places have no idea what they’re missing.

The classic tuna melt, which combines everything you love about a grilled cheese and a tuna salad sandwich, is beloved at roadside diners and greasy spoons across the country. But that doesn’t mean you need to hit up the nearest lunch counter for your next fix. In all likelihood, you’ve got everything you need to make a great tuna melt — nay, a gourmet tuna melt — in your pantry right now.

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“This seemingly simple toasted sandwich with tuna and lots of cheese is a real American classic,” writes Bart Van Olphen in “The Tinned Fish Cookbook.” Olphen knows a thing or two about tuna, too. He got his start preparing fish dishes at a Michelin-rated restaurant in Europe but later devoted his time to researching how tinned fish is caught, packaged and prepared.

He’s also a big proponent of using canned fish in the kitchen, having compiled more than 40 recipes into his new cookbook. One of his favorites, of course, is the tuna melt, served on rustic bread with cheddar cheese and plenty of homemade ketchup.

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Ready to give it a try? Check out the recipe below, and get ready to enjoy the fine-dining version of this lunchtime favorite, right in your very own home.

Tuna Melt with Ketchup

Serves 2

  • One 6-ounce (160-gram) tin of tuna in sunflower oil, drained
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts, finely chopped
  • ¼ bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Tabasco sauce
  • 4 slices of bread, preferably rustic
  • 1½ tablespoons (20 grams) butter
  • 4 slices of cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Homemade Ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • One 14-ounce (400-gram) can peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1½ tablespoons tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions:

  1. Mix the tuna, onion, scallion, parsley, mayonnaise, and a few drops of tabasco in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the ketchup: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the garlic and onion until soft but not browned, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the peeled tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar, and vinegar. Cook over low heat until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season the ketchup with salt and pepper. Press the sauce through a fine sieve and leave to cool.
  3. Butter each slice of bread on one side and turn over. Pile the tuna mixture onto the non-buttered sides of two slices of bread and top with the cheddar. Cover with the other two slices (buttered side up).
  4. Bake the toasted sandwiches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side in a dry frying pan over medium heat until the bread is crunchy and the cheese has melted.
  5. Cut the tuna melt diagonally and serve with the ketchup.

“The Tinned Fish Cookbook” goes on sale May 26. An electronic version for Kindle users is currently available.



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