Friday, October 25, 2013

Italian Tuna Sandwich (No Mayo)

Last Year's Post:  Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf with Tomato Herb Sauce
Two Years Ago:  Pork Tenderloin with Port and Dried Cherry Sauce

I love a tuna sandwich with mayonnaise, but making it with heart-healthy olive oil is a better option and more authentically Mediterranean.  The Italian flavors continue in this sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes, chopped Kalamata olives, capers, lemon and fresh thyme. The lemon and thyme really shine through every bite, with the other ingredients adding pops of flavor.

It's very flavorful even without cheese, but I added some cheddar anyway because I love the taste of cheddar in a tuna sandwich.  You can choose to keep it in or leave it out according to your taste.

An advantage of substituting olive oil for mayonnaise is that you can make the sandwich in advance and don't need to worry if it sits out for a little while at work or on a picnic, plus it's lower in calories. You could also serve the tuna salad in a hollowed-out tomato or over greens if you want to cut even more calories.

You've probably noticed that nearly all the canned tuna in the stores these days is packed in water.  The advantage is that it's cheaper and lower in calories and fat than oil-packed tuna; the disadvantage is that it has less flavor.  So, you decide what's most important for your particular meal - calories or flavor.  I wanted this sandwich to be special so I used an oil-packed tuna, but I often use water-packed tuna for other recipes.

As a direct result of making this particular meal I have one word of advice.  When you open your tuna cans (or any other cans, for that matter), carefully stick the lids back into the cans with no jagged edges protruding before you put the cans in the trash, preferably upside-down.  Not that I would ever fail to follow such a simple safety precaution.

printable recipe
Italian Tuna Sandwich
Serves 4

4 sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup onion, minced
1 rib celery, chopped
¼ cup pitted Nicoise or Kalamata olives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of ½ lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
12 ounces solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
Salt and pepper
Leaf lettuce
4 slices Cheddar cheese (optional)
4 Kaiser or other sandwich rolls

Cover the sun-dried tomatoes with hot water in a bowl.  Set aside until soft, about 20 minutes, then drain, chop and place in a medium bowl.  To mellow the minced onion, soak in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain well, pat dry, and add to the tomatoes.

Add the celery, olives, capers, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and thyme leaves to the bowl and mix well.  Add the tuna, breaking it into chunks with a fork, then toss everything together gently so you don’t break up the tuna chunks.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  To serve, place a leaf of lettuce on each sandwich roll bottom and top with tuna salad, optional cheddar cheese, and the sandwich top.  Squeeze the sandwich together gently.  If not eating immediately, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

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