Summer Recipe: Grown-up Tuna Melts a Protein-Packed Lunch

My brothers and me with our typical picture-taking faces. My mom is so proud.

My brothers and me with our typical picture-taking faces. My mom is so proud.

I don't know about you, but during the summer my family would make a trip to the beach (if we weren't moving) and inevitably we'd stop at a local diner. Tuna isn't my super-favorite food, but I used to really enjoy tuna melts. Something about the way the buttery toasted bread flavor melded with the tuna... couple that with the sea-salt air and it was a recipe that is forever melded in my brain as summer. 

Now that I'm grown, and carry considerably more knowledgable about nutrition, I can't help but cringe a bit inside when I think of the classic tuna melt.

I recently found a cleaner version, huzzah! I read Clean Eating (which is a pretty good magazine if you're so inclined) and they have a feature each month where they "clean up" a classic American meal and I thought I'd share the recipe here for you to try this summer. 

Grown-Up Tuna Melts 

Serves 6


1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper (i.e. a generous shake or two of the shaker)

12 oz of albacore tuna (pouch or can)

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or lower)

1 1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper OR paprika

1/2 tsp tarragon

6 slices of whole grain bread

3 oz reduced fat whit or orang cheddar cheese, grated

3 scallions, thinly sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. In a large skillet, on medium, heat oil. Add onion, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until brown and tender.

3. Meanwhile, plop tuna, celery, yogurt, mustard powder, cayenne, and tarragon into a medium bowl and stir to combine.

4. Toast bread until golden brown and arrange on baking sheet. Spread tuna mixture over each bread slice, divide evenly (or not, if you want more tuna on your slice ;)) . Top with onions and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions before serving.

Hopefully yours look as good as the picture.

Also, if you're NOT a tuna fan- here are some alternatives:

Salmon (cooked)- dill instead of tarragon

Shrimp and feta- finely dice cooked  shrimp and swap tarragon for parsley and feta for cheddar

Chicken curry- shred cooked chicken and mix in curry and dried apricots in place of the tarragon, mustard, and celery.

Chickpea and egg- if you eschew meat, mash up chickpeas and eggs with a fork and swap tarragon for basil.

Happy summer munching!