It’s that time of year, when winter has lost its charm and the spring months seem to be in the far-too-distant future. All we crave is relief from the chilly weather and warmth in our bellies -- especially in the form of comfort food. The ultimate comfort food dishes encourage nostalgia and they generally take the form of something cheesy, warm, and filling (macaroni and cheese or chili, anyone?). A tuna melt checks all those boxes and demands very little time to make, to boot.
While we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for a classic tuna melt made of little more than tuna, mayo, sliced cheese, and bread, most of the time we like to kick things up a notch. Modernizing this old-school classic with global flavors turns mid-winter blahs, into dinnertime "oohs" and "ahhs." This particular variation on the tuna melt draws heavy inspiration from the south of France -- more specifically the rustic cuisine of Provence. But French-inspired food doesn't have to be fancy or complicated, or require techniques that seem far better suited to a Michelin-starred chef. This dish, at its core, is still a simple and satisfying tuna melt, just with the addition of a few French, yet readily available, ingredients.
As you surely know, the classic tuna melt filling simply consists of canned tuna mixed with mayonnaise, with a few bits of celery making their way in from time to time. Enter red peppers, thyme, capers, and lemon. These ingredients push the tuna melt’s deliciousness to a whole new echelon, balancing salty, sweet, sour, and herbal. And if that's not enough, olive oil-packed tuna sits at the base of the mix, imbuing the sandwich with extra flavor and minimizing the amount of mayo needed (note: we recommend starting with just 1 tablespoon of mayo and adding another only if necessary).
If you put this gorgeous tuna salad on lame, flabby bread and top it with flavorless cheese, you've missed the point. Ciabatta ably holds up to the filling without turning soggy, and a soft, melting Asiago pairs perfectly with the other flavors. But feel free to experiment -- so long as the bread is firm and fresh and the cheese melts willingly, you really can't go wrong. Bon appétit!
Provençal Tuna Melt by boulangere
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, like ciabatta
Slices of soft cheese (like Asiago Pressato); use as much as you like.
What's your favorite spin on the standard tuna melt? Share your comments below!
Like this post? See the Easy Everyday topic from last week: Dark Chocolate and Coconut Dessert Sauce.