Thursday, June 23, 2011

BBQ Tuna Melts

If you haven't make Pickled Red Onions yet, for BBQ Bacon Burgers or for another of the myriad uses they have, here's a bit more motivation. As I've said before, I try to eat fish at least once a week, and canned tuna, though not ideal, is a convenient and inexpensive way to get fish into my diet. Even when I was kid and would say I didn't like fish, I was always happy to have tuna salad on a sandwich or crackers. While I still enjoy your typical mayo-and-relish tuna salad as an adult, I prefer something a bit more interesting with some bolder flavors. I picked up some smoked tuna on a lark on a recent shopping trip, thinking that the smoked flavor would immediately elevate even your basic tuna salad, but it inspired me to make this delicious barbecue-inspired tuna salad. I recommend choosing a smoky, vinegary barbecue sauce for this recipe rather than the overly sweet (and high fructose corn syrup filled) that seem to dominate these days. The tuna and barbecue sauce imbue this tuna salad with a delicious smoky flavor, the pickled red onions add a sharp and crunchy element with rich, melty cheese blending it all together for a not-so-average tuna melt that makes adding fish to your diet simple, inexpensive, and just plain delicious.

BBQ Tuna Melts
serves 2

One 4.5-ounce pouch Hickory Smoked tuna (or plain canned or pouch tuna)
2 tablespoons light mayo
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
4 slices whole grain bread
Pickled Red Onions
2 oz. shredded quesadilla, Monterey Jack, or other good melting cheese
Cooking spray

1. Preheat a panini press according to manufacturer's directions (alternatively, preheat a pan over medium to medium-high heat). In a small bowl, combine tuna, mayo, and barbecue sauce and mix well to combine.

2. Place half of the mixture on each of two slices of bread. Top with pickled red onions and shredded cheese and place second slice of bread on top.

3. Open the preheated panini press and spray with cooking spray. Place the assembled tuna melts on the bottom plate, close the lid, and grill until bread is browned and cheese is melted, 4 to 7 minutes. Serve hot.

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