|Lightened up Tuna Panini|
L'il Burnt Toast comes to lunch fairly often. Last week I invited her for what turned out to be "tuna day", where almost everything gracing the table seemed to contain tuna. There is my Tuna, White Bean Salad with Herb-Caper Pesto taking up the rear.
Many people feel that it is healthier to eat tuna packed in water instead of tuna packed in oil, yet it is generally agreed that tuna packed in oil has a better flavor and texture. However, it has been shown that tuna packed in oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise is actually lower in fat than tuna packed in spring water and mixed with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Starting with tuna packed in oil allows people to use less mayonnaise to achieve the desired consistency and taste, thereby cutting down on fat and calories and providing a better tasting salad. Another fat-reducing option is rinsing tuna packed in oil with a small stream of water in a strainer to remove excess oil as I did here. This tuna salad uses balsamic vinegar for added flavour and no mayonnaise at all. Perfect for picnics and beach barbecues too!!!
North Americans eat canned tuna more than any other type of fish, but, it doesn't compare to the wonderfully firm, dense and meaty flavor and texture of fresh tuna. Both canned and fresh tuna are available throughout the year. December is the time to get fresh Hawaiian tuna. Tuna is found in the warm water areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea.
Even if it gets a bad "rap" I do love a homey tuna casserole once in a while and a lightened up version of a tuna salad can always be found on my table during the week!!!
** Lightened-Up Tuna Panini**
Two 6-ounce cans chunk tuna
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ciabatta rolls, split
Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, for spreading
Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
Sixteen 1/8-inch-thick lengthwise slices of kosher dill pickles (optional)
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.Heat a panini press or griddle. Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and mayonnaise and top each roll half with a slice of cheese. Spread the tuna salad on the bottoms and cover with the pickles.
Close the sandwiches and brush the outsides of the rolls lightly with olive oil.Add the sandwiches to the press and cook over moderate heat until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes.
Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
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