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
Test Kitchen Notes
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
Slices of soft cheese; use as much as you like. I used a tender, fresh Asiago Pressato
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.