A tuna sandwich by way of Mediterranean bruschetta
Sometimes the last thing you want to do at the end of a long hot summer day is turn on the oven and make a meal. So here’s a delicious solution that requires no more heat than is necessary to grill up some bread.
The grilled bread in question, rubbed with garlic, is the sturdy and satisfying basis for bruschetta, an Italian appetizer that can carry many toppings but most often is graced with nothing more or less complicated than chopped fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper.
In this case, I’ve topped a large bruschetta with a mound of no-cook tuna salad. In American terms, it’s an open-faced sandwich, and it takes just 30 minutes to prepare. And by the way, if you don’t own a grill, don’t despair: just toast the bread in a toaster.
Canned tuna is everywhere, of course, but I’d advise you to look for the brands that are sustainably caught and lower in mercury. Or use canned salmon instead.
We tend to dress our tuna in mayonnaise, but here we’re rolling in the Mediterranean style, opting instead for extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. The tuna’s partnered with white beans, a great source of protein and fiber that also provides a nice creamy contrast to the tuna’s fishiness. Mashing up some of the beans helps to bind the salad and keep it from falling all over the plate.
I’ve added celery for crunch, but celery-haters will find that chopped fresh fennel is a fine substitute. I’ve also tossed in some red onion, which I love in salads but only after they’ve been tamed. Soaking them in ice water does the trick, significantly reducing the onion’s bite, as well as its staying power on your breath afterward. Remember to put the finely-chopped onion in a strainer before you lower it into the ice water, which saves you from having to fish all the little loose pieces out of the bowl.
The finishing touches? Fresh oregano and some chopped olives mixed with arugula or your favorite dark green lettuce. It’s so simple you may be tempted to whip up this entree sandwich on any evening – no matter the weather – when you only have 30 minutes to put dinner on the table.
TUNA AND WHITE BEAN BRUSCHETTA
6 large 1/2-inch-thick slices rustic whole-grain bread
olive oil cooking spray
half a garlic clove plus 11/2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 5-ounce cans light tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes, then drained and patted dry
3/4 cup pitted and chopped herb-marinated olives
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 cups baby arugula
salt and ground black pepper
Heat the grill to medium.
Lightly mist the bread on both sides with the olive oil cooking spray. Grill the bread on the grill until nicely toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Once the bread is grilled, rub one side of each slice with the cut side of the half clove of garlic. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use a potato masher or fork to mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Add the remaining whole beans, the olive oil, tuna, celery, red onion, olives, lemon juice, oregano, minced garlic and arugula.
Mix gently, then season with salt and pepper. Divide the bean mixture between the slices of bread, mounding it on each. Serve with a fork and knife.
(Sara Moulton was executive chef at “Gourmet” magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”)