Perhaps more than any of its sandwich cousins, the tuna melt takes humble ingredients and transforms them into a special treat. You will need to outfit everyone at the table with a knife and fork to eat this open-faced classic of zesty tuna salad and gooey melted cheese.
3 cans (6 oz. each) white albacore tuna packed in oil or water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced yellow or red onion
2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fresh ground pepper
4 large slices firm white sandwich bread
8 slices tomato
6 oz. mild Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat the broiler. Drain the tuna well and put in a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, celery, onion and parsley and stir well. Season with pepper.
Arrange the bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet and broil, turning once, until very lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute total. Spread equal amounts of the tuna mixture onto each toasted bread slice. Divide the tomato slices evenly among the sandwiches, then divide the Cheddar evenly on top. Return to the broiler and broil until the Cheddar melts, about 1 minute more. Serve at once. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Put a spin on it: You can use rye bread or split English muffins for your tuna melts, and substitute sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, or Swiss cheese for the mild Cheddar. To impart a little tang to the tuna mixture, stir in 2 tablespoons chopped bread-and-butter pickles. If your idea of a tuna melt is not open faced, using untoasted bread, prepare the sandwiches as directed, topping them with a second slice of bread. Spread softened butter on the outside of each sandwich and cook it in a frying pan over medium heat until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown on both sides.
Find more nostalgic, soul-warming dishes in our cookbook Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers.