Whipping up a pesto tuna melt makes for a quick and easy lunch. A crusty baguette topped with pesto butter, pesto tuna salad, and melty mozzarella cheese.
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PESTO TUNA MELT RECIPE VIDEO
Tuna melts are a snap to make, but if this is your first time making one (or you just want to catch me in silent film mode), here’s the tutorial. If you like what you see, I hope you’ll subscribe to my YouTube channel!
PESTO TUNA MELT: AN EASY LUNCH
Whenever I’m stumped on what to make for lunch, I know my pantry will have the answer. That’s the best thing about a pesto tuna melt–or any tuna melt, for that matter. I almost always have everything I need to whip a couple up. Here’s what you’ll need!
I might hurt some feelings here, but good bread doesn’t have an ingredient list that’s a mile long. While sandwich bread is cheap, it’s also full of nasty ingredients. My rule? If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to ingest it! Unless it’s a specialty bread, like a loaf of cheddar jalapeño or potato dill, good bread calls for four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Quality bread makes all the difference when you’re making a sandwich, so either bake your own or support your local bakery.
I don’t want to tell you what kind of bread you should use. Shoot, I don’t even want to tell you what to put in your tuna salad, but you’re here for a pesto tuna melt recipe, right? One of my guiding principles in the kitchen is to use whatever I have on hand. If a rustic loaf of sourdough is on the counter, I’ll saw off a couple of thick slices. In this case, it was a baguette, but again, use what you have. I live in Québec, so we’re baguette rich over here.
When I’m making pesto tuna melt sandwiches for lunch, my rule of thumb is that one can of tuna feeds two people. The question is, what kind of tuna should you be reaching for? Truth be told, there are so many options out there that it’s enough to make one’s head spin. If you can afford it, opt for an environmentally responsible brand that practices sustainable pole and line fishing. This fishing method preserves the lives of sea critters like turtles, sharks, and birds.
When I’m shopping for tuna, I make sure it’s packed in water as opposed to oil. Sometimes the tuna I buy has salt, sometimes it doesn’t. Like butter and beans, I prefer controlling the sodium content in my recipes. Chunked light and flaked light tuna are my preferred picks and are perfect for tuna salad. These days pre-seasoned tuna is also available, but read those labels, folks, that’s all I can say!
As with the bread, I use what I have on hand when I’m making something like a pesto tuna melt. On this particular day I had mozzarella, but use whatever you’d like! My only advice is to use something that gets good and melty, like a Monterey Jack, Brie, Havarti or Cheddar.
Pesto is the one ingredient that not everyone has on hand, myself included. I’m terrible at growing basil in my victory garden, so I never yield enough to preserve big batches of pesto. With that being said, it doesn’t need to be basil pesto. It’s possible to make pesto out of arugula and wild greens like dandelion and garlic mustard.
I usually buy a fresh pesto that’s locally produced and needs to be refrigerated, but I really should keep a jar in my frugal pantry. Pesto can save the day when you’re trying to figure out what to make for dinner. It’s one of my favourite sauces for pizza and pasta. Pesto is a terrific ingredient to have in your metaphorical back pocket!
GUESS WHAT? IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE A PESTO TUNA MELT
I’m going to say this for the last time today, but try to use what you have on hand. If you don’t have pesto, don’t go to the store to pick some up. I mean, you could forage for dandelion greens or garlic mustard if they grow in your area. Just ensure they are trustworthy and not sprayed with pesticides! Really though, pesto isn’t necessary. While I have a recipe for you below, I don’t want you to follow it to a tee. I want you to put your own stamp on it!
I want you to get inspired by your herbs and spices. Work with a theme, like Cajun or Asian Fusion. Dice up pickles or olives, scoop out capers, add a spoonful of dijon mustard, or finely chop some onion or celery. When I’m playing like this in the kitchen, I usually have The Flavour Bible close by to see what ingredients work well together. There’s a reason why it’s one of my favourite kitchen reference books!
THE FINISHING TOUCH
The last thing I want to address is the garnish. If you want to enjoy the tuna melt as is, be my guest. However, I recommend treating yourself to a little garnish. Including something fresh completes the melt, whether that’s a handful of homegrown sprouts, fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced radishes or watercress. Not only does it add a new layer of texture to the sandwich, but there’s also the visual appeal to consider. Someone once told me that people eat with their eyes first, and it’s the truth!
THANKS FOR DROPPING BY THE KITCHEN!
Pesto tuna melts sure are flavourful and delicious, so I hope you’ll give them a try! Even if you wind up using my recipe, I encourage you to taste and adjust the recipe according to your preferences. That’s the number one rule in cooking, you know! Do you have any kitchen rules you swear by, too? I hope you’ll let me know in the comments below! And in case you need an easy side, you should check out this roasted beet salad to go with your tuna melts.
SHOP THIS POST
Wild Planet Skipjack Tuna (sustainable tuna)
OTHER LUNCH IDEAS YOU MIGHT LIKE
Croque-Monsieurs (French ham and cheese melts)
Pissaladière (a summery puff pastry tart)
PESTO TUNA MELT RECIPE CARD
Pesto Tuna Melts
- Baking sheet
- 1 can of tuna
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 3/4 tsp dried parsley
- 2 tsp pesto divided
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp butter softened
- 1/2 cup mozzarella shredded
- 2 slices bread ie. baguette, sourdough bread, etc.
- fresh garnish ie. sprouts, sliced radishes, arugula, etc
- Drain the tuna and add it to a small mixing bowl along with the mayonnaise, herbs, and half the pesto.
- Mix the tuna salad and adjust seasonings to taste.
- In a small dish, stir up the butter with the remaining pesto.
- Turn on the oven's broiler.
- Spread the pesto butter on the bread and add the tuna salad and cheese.
- Pop the open-faced sandwiches into the oven and broil them until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
- Dress the melts with a fresh garnish and serve immediately.
- Consider toasting the bread in advance if you want a crunchier tuna melt.
- Have fun playing around with the ingredients ie. the herbs, spices, cheese, and bread. There are so many possibilities when it comes to tuna melts!
PIN IT FOR LATER
Love and gratitude,