I didn’t grow up eating tuna melts. I heard of them for the first time in the cafeteria line at Hillsdale College. If you could have seen them, I’m sure you’d understand why I didn’t hazard a first try on those greasy, mass-produced mounds of goop. I new that if I had a fighting chance of ever liking the dish, I couldn’t experience it for the first time under those conditions.
Recently, however, I joined Costco (hallelujah!) and bought a bunch of canned tuna and wild caught Alaskan salmon — and found myself at a bit of a loss. What to do with so much canned fish? Eventually, the tuna melt idea floated through my mind, so I decided to try it on my own terms. After a little experimentation, I came up with the following recipe that J and I both really enjoy (my mom just approved it too). To accommodate my gluten allergy, I use bell pepper halves instead of bread. It works equally well for tuna or salmon, and I love it as a last minute dinner. Spiked with dijon mustard, dill, and lots of black pepper, it offers lots of flavor for almost no effort. Especially these days, amidst the hustle and bustle of preparing our home for the market (can I just say that home ownership is overrated?), that kind of ease is priceless.
Salmon or Tuna Melts in Bell Pepper Halves
2 to 3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
12 ounces canned wild-caught salmon or light tuna (albacore contains higher mercury levels)
1 to 2 stalks celery, finely minced
1/4 cup shallot or onion, finely minced
4 to 6 tablespoons mayonnaise (I’ve been using Wilderness Family Natural’s mayo)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried dill or fresh amount to taste
cheddar cheese, grated or thinly sliced (I prefer Organic Valleys extra sharp raw cheddar or my local raw dairy’s offerings)
Core the bell peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the fish, celery, shallot or onion, mayo, Dijon, black pepper, and dill. Divide evenly among bell pepper halves. Top with cheese.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. The fish mixture should be warmed through, the cheese melted, and the bell pepper tender but still with some bite to it.