I went hiking over the weekend in Shenandoah National Park with my girlfriends, Paula and Pam. We hiked up White Oak Canyon to the lower falls. What a glorious day! On the way home, we stopped in Culpepper Virginia and ate at the Frost Diner. A throwback establishment with plain American food and low prices. I had a tuna melt. Remember tuna melts? My Dad used to make them for me when I was a kid, but I hadn’t eaten one in years. So if you haven’t had one in a while or ever, read on to rediscover tuna deliciousness.
Here’s what made the Frost Dinner Tuna Melt so great:
- The tuna was really creamy…we’re talking major mayo. If you don’t like mayo, you might as well stop reading now.
- Crisp brown buttery rye bread that goes crunch.
- Sauteed onions. This is an innovation that I don’t remember having before in this context, but a really great addition.
- Adding the tomato after you grill the sandwich. That way you get the mosture and flavor of the tomato without getting that cooked tomato taste and texture.
Here’s what I used to make 4 big satisfying sandwiches.
- 2 (5 ounce) cans solid tuna in water, drained
- 3/4 cup lowfat mayonnaise (See Note)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flatleaf parsley
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- generous squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 8 slices of rye bread
- 2-3 room temperature tomatoes thinly sliced
- 8 slices Cheddar Cheese
- Butter for grilling (salted or unsalted)
Note: OK, this is a lot of mayo, but in my defense it was very lowfat mayo (only 15 calories and 1 g of fat per tablespoon). If you make this with a richer mayo, try starting with 1/4 cup and add more to taste. In fact, in retrospect, I think I will use a richer mayo next time I make this.
Add the mayo, celery, shallot, parsley, pickle, sugar, kosher salt, black pepper and lemon juice in a medium-size bowl. No need to use the extra big one like I did. Why did I do that?
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. While you wait, go ahead and cook sliced onion over medium heat in a pan with a tablespoon of canola oil and a pinch of kosher salt until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Then slice up that room temperature tomato. It’s almost tuna melt time!
When you’re ready to eat, spread a generous amount of the tuna salad on a piece of rye bread and top with onions and cheese.
I like to cover the pan with a lid while I grill. It makes the cheese melt faster. After about 2 minutes on each side, it will look like this.