Provençal Tuna Melt

March 1, 2012

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Ingredients

  • 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
In This Recipe

Directions

  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.

More Great Recipes:
Sandwich|Bell Pepper|Capers|Green Onion/Scallion|Seafood|Thyme|Tuna|Fall|Spring|Summer|Winter

Reviews (28) Questions (1)

28 Reviews

Nori H. December 19, 2017
I love the sandwich, but am so confused about the red pepper slicing method. Do you have a video of it?
 
Daniel Q. April 8, 2018
Something like this? https://youtu.be/viaKd1V35-4<br />
 
Nori H. April 8, 2018
That’s brilliant! I get it. Thanks, DQ :)
 
Jennifer S. August 25, 2016
This is the best tuna melt I have ever made, all the flavors work so good together. I added some sliced artichoke hearts and served it on a Mediterranean olive bread. <br />Delicious!
 
ntt2 May 2, 2013
I made this today for lunch and it was fabulous! Only thing I did differently was to add mustard. Thanks Cynthia! Regards, nt
 
Author Comment
boulangere May 2, 2013
Thank you so much; I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm a mustard person, too.
 
aargersi April 2, 2013
Now I want this today, for lunch!
 
Author Comment
boulangere April 2, 2013
Quelle coincidence! I made one Saturday while glued to basketball.
 
sel E. February 23, 2013
Boulangere, you are the queen of tinned tuna (in olive oil). My husband declared this the best sandwich I ever made.
 
Author Comment
boulangere February 24, 2013
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.
 
Sunshiney July 13, 2012
I'm sold... This was the best tuna melt I've ever had. <br /> <br />I have tended to shy away from oil packed tuna in the past... But stand today a happy convert!
 
Author Comment
boulangere July 13, 2012
How wonderful to bring another one over to the oil-packed side! I am delighted you enjoyed it, and love your name!
 
jkcoop July 3, 2012
What a fantastic tuna melt, I'll never make another!
 
Author Comment
boulangere July 9, 2012
I'm very happy you like it; thank you!
 
leigh.bartolomeo June 18, 2012
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).
 
leigh.bartolomeo June 18, 2012
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!
 
MrsVoss May 8, 2012
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!
 
Author Comment
boulangere May 8, 2012
Fantastic variation! So glad you're enjoying it.
 
Dee G. April 15, 2012
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!
 
Author Comment
boulangere April 15, 2012
Thank you, Dee. Your minis are a wonderful idea.
 
Sarah S. March 29, 2012
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. <br />I think additions of artichoke hearts and/or kalamata olives would be awesome with this too.
 
Author Comment
boulangere April 15, 2012
Mmmmmm, lovely dinner. And I agree with you about the chokes and kalamatas.
 
culture_connoisseur March 18, 2012
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
 
Author Comment
boulangere March 18, 2012
Ohhhhhhhh, artichoke hearts - can only make it better!
 
DAVILCHICK March 17, 2012
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. :)
 
Author Comment
boulangere March 17, 2012
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.
 
em-i-lis March 15, 2012
congrats on the community pick, b! delicious!!!
 
Author Comment
boulangere March 16, 2012
Thank you so much, Em.