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Thursday 13 September 2012

Tuna Melt (The Cheaty Way)

Yes, gentle reader, if there's one thing you can be sure of with this blog, it's that whenever you're in the kitchen, slaving over the simplest of dishes and thinking "there has to be an easier way of doing this!"...
I know that feel, bro

So when you get a hankering for a tuna melt, for example, but can't face the idea of cracking open a tin of tuna, risking that so-close-to-its-use-by-date mayonnaise, chucking it all together with some chopped veg, slapping it on some toast, and then chucking it under the grill, know that I have been there (apart from the mayonnaise bit - I never buy the stuff because I'd never get round to using it!)... and now I have a workable solution.

This might as well be a follow-up to my cheese'n'leftovers on toast post, because this is basically cheese'n'leftovers on toast... but with the added fun of shop-bought, ready-made tuna and sweetcorn sandwich filler separating the toasted slices of bread from that noble Cheddar.

I've been trying to think up a pun about capers, because I added some of them, but I guess I'm just too tired...

On with the 'recipe'...

  • 1 tub of Tuna and Sweetcorn sandwich filler (of the sort that can be found in Tesco, Sainsbury's, Iceland, etc. Generally around 170g, permanently on special offer)
  • Half a Small Onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Capers (I used Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients 'A Spoonful of Nonparielle Capers in Brine', which I washed off prior to use)
  • A Decent Amount of Cheddar, sliced, diced or grated, as per your preference
  • Black Pepper, ground as a topping.
Preparation Time: about 10 minutes

Tools Required:
  • Really?
  • Seriously, I cheated the hell out of this one
  • Erm, OK... How about... a Toaster? (or you can just toast the bread under the grill)
  • Small, Sharp Kitchen Knife
  • A Teaspoon maybe?
The Process:
First off, toast the bread to your preferred level of burnt. If you're using a grill to toast your bread, keep it going once it's done. If not, pre-heat the grill to about 150C. While that's happening, crack open the tub of Tuna and Sweetcorn sandwich filler. Make ready your cheese by whatever method you prefer... for this experiment, since I had no ready-grated cheese, I decided to cut a few slices, then chop them up into little bricks - a knife is far easier to clean than a grater, after all. Chop up the half onion as per your preference, then dump into the tub and stir in. Take your teaspoon of capers (washing if necessary) and add them to the mix. By the time it's all churned up nicely, the toast should be done.

Spread the embellished sandwich filling upon your golden slices. Sprinkle your bits of Cheddar atop the melange, then grind some pepper on top of that before sticking it under the grill for five or so minutes.

Since you may wish to assume a bias in my writing herein, I must confess a particular fondness for two things related to the topic at hand:
  • Tuna Melts
  • Finding easier, more efficient ways of doing things
This satisfied on both counts and, additionally, in that it was a really tasty snack dinner this evening. I know onions are pretty much a mainstay in a good tuna melt, but I'd never have thought to add capers.

Largely, this is because I have no idea how to use capers in cooking, and only bought them in the first place because they're listed in a recipe in that Rachel Khoo book I got for my birthday.

Not quite sure what they added to this... their flavour is noticeable... kind of like a very mild olive, only not. Whatever it was, the capers and the pepper added a certain amount of bite, and the overall effect was a nice change from my usual cheese on toast. It'd be just as easy to do this as a 'proper' tuna melt - that is, a toasted sandwich - but I fancied the 'two-halves' approach on this occasion.

What's really good about this is that it's another, slightly off-the-wall use for those tubs of Tuna and Sweetcorn sandwich filling, which tend to have ridiculously short shelf-lives, even refrigerated. The furthest Use By date I've ever seen was only about two days from the date of purchase, which seems even more strange when you consider that the Egg and Bacon sandwich fillings are labelled as lasting anything up to a full week.

Time for some cheesy, fishy capers, I'll warrant...
(got there in the end...)


  1. Protip: if you're too lazy for the grater and don't like the really thick chunks of cheese your sucky knife skills yield - in other words, if you're me - I have two words for you. Potato. Peeler. It changed my life. Or at least the part of my life that involves cheese. It's quite a large part.

    Also, capers are a primary ingredient in tartare sauce (along with mayonnaise, gherkins, lemon juice and tarragon), if you need another idea for them! Be warned though, it's addictive stuff. Like, fish fingers every day for two weeks addictive - and that's when the recipe isn't even quite right (I used green peppercorns instead because that's what we had to use up).

    This probably could have been an email instead. Sometimes you just have to share your wisdom with the world though, y'know?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Courtney, and especially for a most inspired cheesemeistering tip. Pretty sure I have a potato peeler lurking, as yet undiscovered, in my kitchen, so there will be some cheese peelin' experiments soon.

      Home-made tartare sauce is a tempting idea, too... and would give me an excuse to actually buy mayonnaise without worrying about it sitting in the fridge, neglected, for six months after its expiry date. Moreso, considering the rate I get through fish fingers...