When I was a junior in college, I shared an apartment with three other women. Someone had the great idea of splitting the cooking chores and proposed each one of us would cook dinner one night a week for all four us, Monday – Thursday. Too many people went away or home on the weekend to worry about any of the other days. We didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about cooking, but gave it our best and were thrilled that we came home to a cooked dinner nearly every school night. Might have saved a few bucks, too. I have no idea what I made, but one roommate, Jan Jellinek, often made her mom’s famous TUNA MELTS. Now this wasn’t a diner-style grilled hot tuna and cheese sandwich, but instead was tuna salad with maybe cheese on a bun and heated in the oven for what I remember to be 45 minutes. That had to have been waaaay too long, but that’s my memory. (The oven’s a lot faster than skillets if you’re making several melts.) I married the next summer and Jan’s TUNA MELT was on our newlywed menu fairly often. It slipped off the weekly rotation somehow after we made a move or two, but 48 years later, I’ve never forgotten about it.Jump to Recipe
Whenever I make a tuna melt, in fact, I’m reminded of those college dinners and think, “I should toss this in the oven instead of grilling it.” Last week, I finally got around to it, but with shrimp instead of tuna salad. Thanks, Jan. We loved it –what a treat for second FRIDAY FISH!– and I’ve promised to make it again soonest. Here’s what it might look like when you try this:
FRIDAY FISH: Shrimp Melt
- 1- pound cooked, deveined, tails-off shrimp–dried with paper towels (can chop first or chop the salad all together later with a pastry cutter)
- ¼ teaspoon EACH kosher salt and fresh ground pepper plus extra to sprinkle on just before adding the cheese at the end
- Zest of one lemon and juice from one-half lemon
- 2-3 shakes hot sauce or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon grated horseradish
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly
- 1 small stalk celery with leaves, minced
- 2 tablespoons EACH minced red bell pepper, minced fresh parsley, and minced peperoncini (can use pickles, olives, pickled jalapenos, capers, etc. in place of peperoncini)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise — plus extra to spread on buns
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 4 slices Provolone cheese–can sub Cheddar, Swiss, Colby, Gruyere, etc.
- 4 sliced brioche burger buns
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the towel-dried shrimp, salt/pepper, lemon zest/juice, hot sauce, horseradish, green onions, celery, red bell pepper, parsley, pepperoncini, mayonnaise, and Dijon-style mustard. If the shrimp isn’t already chopped, chop/mix the salad with a pastry cutter for a couple of minutes until shrimp are cut into ½-inch pieces or smaller. Taste for seasonings.
- Spread both sides of the brioche bun with mayo and scoop or spread ¼ of the shrimp salad onto each of the bun bottoms. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Top with cheese; add top buns. (I folded cheese slices in half to keep them from melting all over the foil.)
- Wrap sandwiches with foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake 15-20 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted. Open carefully. Serve hot with chips and pickles. Extra napkins might be appreciated.Keep leftover shrimp salad in the fridge well-wrapped for a day or so.
Wine: Unoaked Chardonnay or off-dry Riesling.
TIPS FOR CHANGING IT UP AND MAKING THIS MEAL:
- *Tasty additions: chopped eggs, jalapeños (fresh or pickled), minced carrot or fennel or zucchini, or crispy cooked bacon slices tucked in just under the cheese–if not fasting from meat. Add avocados, sliced tomatoes or fresh spinach after baking.
- *Change it up: lime instead of lemon or get extra heat with crushed red pepper or more hot sauce. Try a little more Dijon and a little less mayo. Sub your favorite vegetables for the ones I’ve used.
- *Lower carb: Serve cold over baby spinach or sliced tomatoes or quinoa instead of on buns.
- *Lower fat: Skip cheese; use light mayo.
- *Serve cold. Skip the baking and these are more like shrimp rolls which are often served on a potato hot dog bun that has the center cut out instead of being sliced in half.
- *Make sliders (get more servings) and serve with a vegetable soup. *Healthier: whole wheat buns.
- *Want to grill this instead of bake it in the oven? Use buttered bread instead of brioche buns (or slice a little off the bun tops/butter both sides) and grill on a medium-high grill/skillet for 3-5 min each side or until cheese is melted and salad is hot.
TIPS FOR REDUCING WASTE, AND SAVING $$:
- REDUCING WASTE FROM THIS MEAL: *You can freeze lemon juice or zest. *Use extra parsley, green onions, etc. in salads and soup or for garnish. More info? Read up@ Save the Food.
- *SHOPPING THIS MEAL: Buy only what you need. Examples: single stalks of celery or 4 slices of cheese at deli. Check the fish counter and the frozen aisle for prices before buying shrimp. Currently, our local King Sooper’s (Kroger) is selling a pound of frozen, deveined, tail-on shrimp for $7.99. Buy extra and freeze when on sale. How to Buy Shrimp…/BA (Cook uncooked shrimp if it’s lots cheaper.)
- *SHOPPING OVERALL: Shop at one place once a week for as many groceries as you can. Shop weekly sales/stock up on good buys. Try Costco 2-day delivery — dry goods have free delivery for orders over $75.
- EAT AT HOME!! A little dated, but the basic premises hold true.
LIFE GOES ON:
You’ve likely seen this photo somewhere in the media over the last week and it strikes at the heart of your world and mine. If you don’t pray, focus all your best thoughts on the world and channel….hope, peace, and love for all. Listen to this when you’ve a moment.
World Central Kitchen donations
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this week; it means a lot to me. While waiting for the Roto-Rooter guy (sheesh), I’m watching the young does search for food in the snow this morning. Looks like we’ll get several inches of well-needed precipitation.
Stay well and warm; cook on,