Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.
I have a few go-to sandwiches that I like to order and one of them is the tuna melt. I can’t recall ever having a bad one, but I do know the best one I’ve ever had is one I made myself. And I am not tooting my own horn, because the sandwich recipe I used came from kitchen denizen Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, whose elevated comfort food has saved me many times when I am in a cooking rut.
The key to kicking up the tuna melt a notch is to start with good tuna, and the best is tuna packed in oil. Garten opts for tuna packed in oil from Italy and Spain which are in clear glass rather than in cans. If it doesn’t hit the wallet too hard opt for the imported brand, but if you can’t go there then stick with the canned tuna in oil.
The other key ingredient is anchovy paste, which spikes the tuna with salty, umami-ladened goodness, a little richness to fill in the gaps. The anchovy is a war cry, I know, causing some people to flee from it in horror (my husband is one of them, and I don’t think has forgiven me for sneaking in anchovies in a pizza years ago.) You can find tubes of anchovy paste at most supermarkets these days, and it is well worth trying it out in the ultimate tuna melt. If you do use anchovy paste, then cut down on the salt (or omit it completely.)
I like using a multi-grain bread that I get from a local bakery for my ultimate tuna melt, but feel free to use white or even rye bread provided it is a larger slice to accommodate the tuna mix. And I am a huge fan of dill, so I tend to add a bit more than the 3 tablespoons called for in the recipe.
2 jars tuna packed in olive oil, 6-8 ounce jars
1/2 cup diced hearts of celery, 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup minced scallion from about 3 scallions (green onions), white and light green parts
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (reduce salt if using anchovy paste)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional but do try it. It takes the melt to another level!)
4 large slices of your choice of bread
4 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
1 ounce microgreens, or arugula
In a medium bowl, flake the tuna finely with a fork. Add the celery, scallions, and dill, and continue mixing and fluffing with the fork until combined. Add the lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Combine the mayonnaise and anchovy paste, if using, and mix into the tuna.
Preheat the broiler.
Toast the bread in a toaster and then place the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Spread a quarter of the tuna mixture thickly and evenly on each piece of bread, covering the entire slice. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on the 4 sandwiches, covering the tuna completely. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, just until the cheese melts and starts to brown. (Watch it carefully!)
Sprinkle with the microgreens or chopped arugula and serve hot.