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Olive Oil–Poached Tuna Melts

Could there be a more classic Diner Classic than a tuna melt? This one gets dressed up with fresh tuna poached in herbed olive oil. The tuna salad makes way more than you need for 4 sandwiches, but the leftovers are a great bonus. You’ll also end up with lots of delicious herbed olive oil. Save it and use it in pasta dishes, such as puttanesca.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups olive oil

  • 4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 lemon, juiced and zest peeled off in strips

  • 2 large bay leaves

  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 1/2 pounds tuna steaks (such as ahi or yellowtail), 1 inch thick

  • 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped, or 1/2 small bulb fennel, finely chopped

  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 small fresh red chile, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  • Leaves from 2 or 3 sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

  • 1/4 cup niçoise or other brine-cured black olives, pitted

  • Rachael Ray Seafood Seasoning or Old Bay seasoning

  • 6 ounces very sharp white cheddar cheese or Gruyère cheese, shredded on the large holes of a box grater

  • 4 brioche rolls or lobster rolls, split

Preparation

In a deep skillet, combine the oil, thyme, lemon zest strips, bay leaves, and garlic. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the fish. Let stand 20 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate to cool. Reserve the poaching oil and let cool. Strain into a clean jar.

Whisk together the lemon juice and 1?3 cup of the reserved poaching oil; season with salt and pepper. Add the celery, onion, chile, bell pepper, parsley, tarragon, capers, and olives. Flake the fish with 2 forks. Season with a little seafood seasoning, add to the dressing, and toss to combine.

Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate.

Night of: Remove the salad from the refrigerator.

Preheat the broiler with a rack in the center of the oven.

Place the split rolls on a baking sheet. Pile the tuna salad on the roll bottoms and top with the cheese. Broil to toast the roll tops and melt the cheese, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

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