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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 lunchtime classic of zesty tuna salad and gooey melted cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans (each 6 oz.) white albacore tuna packed in oil or water
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, homemade (see related recipe at left) or purchased
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow or red onion
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 large slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 6 oz. mild cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:

Preheat a 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 cheese evenly on top. Return the pan to the broiler and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 minute more. Serve immediately. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Variation: You can use rye bread or split English muffins for your tuna melts, and substitute sharp cheddar, Gruyère or Swiss cheese for the mild cheddar. To impart a little tang to the tuna mixture, stir in 2 Tbs. 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 them in a fry pan over medium heat until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown on both sides.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).