Spicy Tuna Melt with Jalapeños and Sharp Cheddar

This is my go-to sandwich when I’m feeling too lazy to cook a full dinner but still want something satisfying. Melted cheddar, zippy jalapeños and tuna on crispy bread…. my mouth is watering just thinking about these sandwiches! This is a pretty versatile recipe- you can omit, substitute, increase or decrease your favorite ingredients based on your personal preferences (we never measure for this– just eyeball it- so all of the measurements below are approximations). This particular iteration is my bf’s latest creation.

Tasty Tuna Melt Goodness

Spicy Tuna Melt with Jalapeños and Sharp Cheddar

Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 sandwiches (or one humongous sandwich)

Ingredients

7 oz. can of tuna or chicken packed in water
2 heaping spoonfuls of light Miracle Whip (about 1/4 cup give or take)
1 heaping spoonful of coarse grain mustard (about 2 tablespoons)
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
dash of hot sauce (bf used The Sauce That Killed Kenny)

1-2 ribs celery, finely diced (optional)
6-12 jalapeños (sliced, pickled)
2-3 generous slices of sharp white cheddar per sandwich
2 or 4 slices of your favorite bread (I use a whole grain bread)

Special Tools: Panini press/grill (optional)

What To Do

If you’re using a panini press that requires preheating, start that now so it’s nice and hot when you’ve assembled the sandwiches. If you don’t have a panini press, you can use a non-stick pan or pan sprayed with non-stick spray on medium-low heat.

Open the can of tuna and drain off the excess water. I usually rinse the can before opening, and use the lid to drain off the liquid after opening by pressing the lid against the meat.

In a medium size bowl, separate the tuna chunks with a fork. Basically just smush the tuna until it looks like the picture below.

Separated Tuna Chunks

Next, add in the globs of Miracle Whip (or mayo). Don’t add too much at this stage- you can always add in more Miracle Whip or mustard if you feel that the tuna is too dry.

Tuna & Miracle Whip

And the coarse grain mustard. You can spend a lot of money on fancy mustard, but we’ve found that a certain discount store’s house branded coarse grain mustard tastes just as good as some of the expensive mustards I’ve purchased.I also really like Trader Joe’s whole grain mustard.

Coarse Grain Mustard

Sprinkle on the spices, dried onions, parsley and pepper. Add a dash of hot sauce if you dare!

Spices on Tuna

Carefully incorporate the Miracle Whip, mustard and spices into the tuna using a fork or spatula. The mixture should be just moist enough to hold everything together.

Mix it all together

If you’re using the celery, add it in now. Stir to distribute evenly throughout the mixture. We didn’t use celery this time, but it does add a nice crisp crunch to this sandwich. And the fiber content in the celery will help you keep feeling full after this meal.

If you’re making two sandwiches, divide the mixture evenly and spread onto the bread. You can also save half of the tuna mix for later (another tasty sandwich or add to a salad for a healthy lunch) or make one huge glorious sandwich if you’re feeling ravenous.

Arrange the sliced pickled jalapeños evenly on each sandwich.

Sliced Jalapeños on Tuna

Slice the sharp white cheddar using a cheese cutter (for soft cheeses) or a knife.

Who cut it?

And distribute evenly across the sandwiches.

Cheese on Tuna SandwichPlace the second slice of bread on top and place onto the panini press with the tuna mixture on top (the slice of bread you just added should be on the bottom). I’ve found that this tends to decrease the likelihood that the sandwich will get soggy.

Grill for about 2-3 minutes, then flip over and grill for an additional 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted. If you are talented enough to be able to flip the sandwich without making a mess, try positioning it at a 45 degree angle from the first grill marks– this will give the bread pretty crosshatched grill marks. I can occasionally do that.

Pretty Tuna Sandwich Grill Marks

Cut the sandwich into halves diagonally (it’s a scientific fact that sandwiches cut diagonally taste better and help you with geometry tests).

Nom Tuna Sandwich

Eat hot. Enjoy!

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Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes because it is infused with cheesy goodness. If you’ve never tried your hand at making it, or if you’re afraid of Gordon Ramsey materializing in your kitchen insulting your cooking skills in a British accent, forget Señor Ramsey and get cookin’ because this is just too good to pass up!

(This video is definitely NSFW- language). But excellent for impromptu kitchen dance parties. That is all.

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto

Adapted from this recipe.

Time: 45-50 min (15 min prep; 30-35 min cook)
Servings: 6

Ingredients

6 1/2 cups (give or take) low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio, or other starchy short grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/2 to 1 full medium zucchini, thinly sliced into pieces about 2-3 inches long (see picture below)
10 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into strips

1-2 cups of your favorite veggies; I used the following:
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup broccoli stems, diced
1 jalepeño, diced

2+ tsp dried thyme
2+ tsp dried basil
2+ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped or 1/2 tsp dry rosemary
1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Special Tools: deep sauté pan or large, heavy stockpot, wooden spoon

What To Do

Heat the stock on medium high in a sauce pan– if it starts to boil, turn down the heat but keep the cover on to keep the stock hot.

Crush and dice the garlic, and chop up your onion.

Onions & Garlic- Yum!

Heat the EVOO in a sauté pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onion, and stir with a wooden spoon (since you’re going to stir a lot, you want to use a stirring device that doesn’t conduct heat well).

Sauté the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes, until translucent.

Add the rice and stir to mix into the garlic and onions. I ran out of Arborio rice, so I substituted with some farro that I had on hand. Note: Farro takes a bit longer to cook than Arborio. I’ve found that when using farro in risotto, it will be a little more liquidy the first day I make it, but after sitting overnight or for several days it tends to soak up a bit more liquid to make a thicker, creamier risotto (Also, I ❤ leftovers!).

Deglazing the Pan

Let the rice cook for 3-5 minutes, until the kernels turn a toasted golden brown color.  Next, deglaze the pan with the wine or an equivalent amount of stock. Add a ladelfull of stock and mix the rice and veggies into the liquid.

While that is simmering……

Courgette is a fancy name

Chop up your veggies if you haven’t already done so. You’ll want to add the veggies to the rice mixture in order of how long they’ll take to fully cook, so carrots and broccoli stalks go first.

Why do I use broccoli stalks, you ask? Well, to be honest, I just can’t bring myself to throw them away! It seems like such a waste to buy broccoli for the crown and then throw away perfectly edible food! I’ve found that these stalks work great as vegetable “filler” in meals where I just don’t have enough other veggies on hand, or in meals where the flavors and ingredients are strong enough to season this relatively innocuous veggie. I’ve found that it kind of has a mellower broccoli flavor than the florets, but melds easily into other cooked dishes– sauces, casseroles, rice. (After some quick googling, it looks like other people eat the stalks, too! Raw and cooked– check it out). I like the term “Stalker”- haha! Looks like raw stalks are loaded with Vitamin A, too!

Veggies in the Pan

Add the veggies to the pan. Sprinkle around 1 tsp of each of your spices on top of the veggies, add a ladle of stock and stir.

Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into strips and fold into the risotto. You can add them to the rice earlier or later depending on how infused you want the dish to be with their tomato flavor.

Bread & Butter ProTip: If you’re using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drain the oil into the sauté pan instead of using plain EVOO. This will add another layer of flavor to your dish. Or, use the oil to flavor a roasted vegetable size dish.

Alternate adding a ladle of stock, a pinch of the spices and stirring until you have used up all of your stock. You’ll want to wait until the liquid is mostly absorbed before adding the next ladle (if I’m pressed for time or feeling lazy, I’ll turn up the heat on the stove to move this along). Stirring is what makes this dish so creamy– so be sure to stir every couple of minutes.

When you have one or two ladles of stock left, slowly sprinkle on the grated cheese while stirring to incorporate into the rice and veggie mixture. If you dump all of the cheese in at once, it is likely to clump together rather than melting evenly throughout the risotto.

Once the cheese has melted into the risotto, it’s ready to eat!

Serve with a fresh grating of cheese (mmmm cheese) if desired.

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto2

Bon Appétit!