Provençal Tuna Melt

By • March 1, 2012 • 28 Comments



Author Notes: Purists may cringe at the use of "Provençal" and "Melt" in the same phrase, but if the shoe, so to speak, fits . . . I've grouped some of the flavors that remind me most of Provence, put them between some good, grilled bread, and added a soft, melt-y cheese. And any day I can stand on a soapbox and proclaim the glories of tuna packed in olive oil is a good one.boulangere

Food52 Review: This isn't your standard greasy diner version of a tuna melt. Packed with lots of flavor, this makes for an excellent and healthy lunch. The recipe calls for two tablespoons of Mayonnaise, I found that one did the trick. The red pepper flakes add a nice little spice, and the asiago is a great call. Feel free to get creative with different bread variations such as whole wheat or ciabatta.Dana'sBakery

Serves 2

  • 1 6-ounce can tuna packed in olive oil*
  • 1/4 of a red bell pepper, 1/4" dice
  • Green parts of 2 scallions, 1/4" dice
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices good bread; I used my own ciabatta
  • Olive oil
  • Slices of soft cheese; use as much as you like. I used a tender, fresh Asiago Pressato
  1. Tuna packed in olive oil is one of the genuinely great things in life. It has a tenderness that the water-packed varieties lack utterly. It costs a bit more, and is worth every penny. The daughter and I became hopelessly addicted to it last summer in Italy and France. We'd buy small cans in 3-packs. We used it in pastas, on salads, and carried it in a backpack for impromptu lunches, knowing we could always score good bread with which to eat it. It's become a pantry staple I wouldn't want to try to do without. To use it here, don't drain the oil off too aggressively. Leave about half of it in the can; it will contribute a lovely silkiness to the filling. Scrape the tuna and oil into a mixing bowl.
  2. May I tell you about an easy way to break down a bell pepper? Stand it on end, position your knife at the bump of the "shoulder", and slice down, following the curve of the pepper. You'll take off about a quarter of it, and leave the seeds and white pith attached to the center. Slice the pepper into strips, then lay a few at a time on their sides to chop. A knife will cut through the skin much more easily from the side than if you lay the strips skin-side down or up. Especially if your knife isn't, ahem, as sharp as it probably should be. Add the peppers to the bowl.
  3. Slice the scallions and add them to the bowl. Roughly chop the capers (you're just trying to break them up a bit) and add them to the bowl. Mince the thyme (the stems on my plant in the kitchen window are so tender that I don't even need to pull the leaves off) and add it. Eyeball the mayo, but don't use a heavy hand. You want just enough to bind the mixture. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the red pepper flakes. Gently stir everything together.
  4. Turn on the broiler. Set a rack a notch below the one right under the broiler; that will let the filling warm and cheese melt without either burning. I prefer broiling the outsides of the bread, then adding the filling and cheese, and passing everything under the broiler again. I love the additional layer of flavor that comes from allowing the cheese and edges of the bread to brown on the inside, rather than simply melt, as they would in a skillet or press. Lay bread slices outsides-up on a baking sheet NOT lined with parchment, for what I trust are obvious reasons. Brush them with olive oil and place under broiler. Don't walk away. They should brown nicely within about a minute. Remove the baking sheet and use tongs to turn over slices of bread. Divide filling between two slices, and arrange cheese on the others. Return to broiler. Heat for about 2 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden brown, and filling has heated.
  5. Remove from oven, Use tongs to turn the cheese-y slices over on top of those spread with filling. Slice in half, and serve immediately. Pour some glasses of a crisp white wine and raise a toast to global cuisine.
Jump to Comments (28)

Comments (28) Questions (1)

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about 1 year ago ntt2

I made this today for lunch and it was fabulous! Only thing I did differently was to add mustard. Thanks Cynthia! Regards, nt

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about 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much; I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm a mustard person, too.

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over 1 year ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Now I want this today, for lunch!

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over 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Quelle coincidence! I made one Saturday while glued to basketball.

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over 1 year ago sel et poivre

Boulangere, you are the queen of tinned tuna (in olive oil). My husband declared this the best sandwich I ever made.

Dscn2212

over 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, I love it! I'm so glad you both enjoyed it so much. I make it often, and love it every time. Thank you very much.

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about 2 years ago Sunshiney

I'm sold... This was the best tuna melt I've ever had.

I have tended to shy away from oil packed tuna in the past... But stand today a happy convert!

Dscn2212

about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

How wonderful to bring another one over to the oil-packed side! I am delighted you enjoyed it, and love your name!

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about 2 years ago jkcoop

What a fantastic tuna melt, I'll never make another!

Dscn2212

about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'm very happy you like it; thank you!

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about 2 years ago leigh.bartolomeo

This sandwich was divine! It was the second time I have had tuna in oil...and I have to let you know that I am a true believer now. The asiago cheese was mildly pungent and creamy, which was heavenly with the earthy thyme, sweet pepper, and lemony tuna. Next time I make this...I probably won't share it with my hubby (who loved it too).

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about 2 years ago leigh.bartolomeo

I forgot to mention that I love capers and crusty bread, and the addition of crushed red peppers gave just the right amount of heat to make it interesting. Thank you!

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about 2 years ago MrsVoss

This is the most delicious tuna melt I've ever had! I used finely diced cashews instead of mayo and added more lemon juice. I'll be keeping this recipe, thanks!

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about 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Fantastic variation! So glad you're enjoying it.

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over 2 years ago Dee G

Fantastic sandwich - a great way to win over people who think they aren't fans of canned tuna. I made them as mini sandwiches and offered as hors d'oeuvres. Big hit!

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over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Dee. Your minis are a wonderful idea.

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over 2 years ago Sarah Smith

So delicious! I used 1/2 a bell pepper, dried thyme, sourdough, and provolone for my melts. Served with a creamy tomato basil soup. It was a fantastic dinner.
I think additions of artichoke hearts and/or kalamata olives would be awesome with this too.

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmmmm, lovely dinner. And I agree with you about the chokes and kalamatas.

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over 2 years ago culture_connoisseur

I've never been in to tuna melts......until I met this one. LOVE the use of capers.....and I'm going to add artichoke hearts

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over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Ohhhhhhhh, artichoke hearts - can only make it better!

Barbara_davilman

over 2 years ago DAVILCHICK

Okay, tuna melts are one of my most favorite foods in the world. Especially on rainy days like today. Normally I hate when people do this but...I didn't have the tuna in olive oil, we were out of thyme (i used a pinch of sage) and all we had was mozzarella cheese and rye bread. OMG IT WAS STILL DELICIOUS!!! My only problem now is - HOW DO I NOT EAT THE ENTIRE BOWL OF TUNA I MADE????? Thanks for this recipe. I can't wait for the rain to stop so i can get the rest of the listed ingredients and try it for real. :)

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over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Nothing to apologize for......using what you have, making the best effort, creating a lunch that made you very happy ...... what's not to love? I'll bet the rye bread was fantastic. When you have a chance to pick some tuna in olive oil, try it again and make a taste comparison. See which you like best.

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

congrats on the community pick, b! delicious!!!

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over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, Em.

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over 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Love this sandwich! I have one can left of the ortiz tuna enough for two sandwiches this one and BKR's nicoise sandwich. Delicious!

Dscn2212

over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I have a poolish going for ciabatta = lunch Saturday. Thanks, sdb!

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over 2 years ago Bevi

When i get back from traveling, I am thinking of combining your resources and making a meatball sandwich between layers of ciabatta! And I made some toasted red peppers sitting in oil - they will go on this sandwich as I use up my tuna in oil.

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over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Bevi, I should mention in the ciabatta recipe that I chop it up for rolls routinely. Your meatball sandwich sounds divine, especially with those peppers! In the meantime, happy trails!