Tuna melts are a type of grilled or fried sandwich that includes tuna topped with melted cheese. Generally known as diner food in the United States, tuna melts can be simple or fancy and are often made at home. Good for lunches, these sandwiches are a favorite of adults and children alike.
Bread, tuna, and cheese are the only required ingredients in tuna melts. The tuna is always canned and prepared as a simple or complex tuna salad. Bread is most often white, but may be rye, sourdough, or wheat. American or cheddar cheese is frequently used, but almost any cheese, such as provolone or swiss, may be included instead.
The tuna salad used for these sandwiches is usually drained tuna mixed with mayonnaise and other flavorings. Mustard, relish, and lemon juice may be included. Diced onions, celery, or black olives are sometimes added as well. Salt and pepper may or may not be added to taste. Fancier sandwiches may even include capers in the tuna salad mix. Some tuna brands also have pre-made tuna salad or flavored tuna in pouches or cans which are suitable for use on tuna melts.
Mayonnaise is usually spread on the bread before the other ingredients are added. Usually, the tuna is placed on a slice and the cheese tops it, but the cheese may be placed first. Often sliced tomato is included in the sandwich as well. After all the ingredients are placed on one slice, another mayonnaise coated slice is placed on top to complete the sandwich. Tuna melts can also be open-faced sandwiches, meaning the second bread slice is omitted.
Once complete, the sandwich is placed in the oven and broiled until the bread is toasted. Some versions, particularly open-faced versions, may toast just the bread in this way first and then return the sandwich to the broiler only to melt the cheese. Alternatively, the sandwich may be placed into a buttered frying pan and grilled in that way. The tuna melt is flipped half way through cooking so both slices of bread can be toasted.
Canned tuna usually contains small amounts of mercury, which is generally harmless, but can cause problems for pregnant women and young children. Different types of tuna contain different amounts of mercury, and therefore, different amounts are safe to consume. Doctors suggest only 12 ounces (340 grams) of light tuna or 6 ounces (170 grams) of albacore be eaten per week by young children or pregnant women.