Beyond Tuna Salad Sandwiches

When it comes to sandwiches, it’s hard to beat tuna salad. From the time I was a kid until now, it’s been one of my favorites. I guess what impresses me the most is the number of variations you can come up with if you use your imagination.

Of course, we’re all familiar with a plain old tuna salad sandwich, the kind where all you do is mix up some tuna with a little mayo or Miracle Whip. We all probably had that as kids. Those were the kind we had at school hot lunch, usually on Fridays. That’s because I went to a Catholic school, and we couldn’t eat meat Fridays.

As I got older, my tuna salad sandwiches became a little more varied. It seemed that adding a little sweet pickle to the mix (I still do this) really kicked the sandwich up a notch. One of my favorite ways to have tuna salad was on cracker with a slice or two of sweet pickles on top. While in college, one of my roomates, Ron Amiot, always used to have some of his mom’s homemade bread and butter pickles on hand — but not for long, since I loved them with my tuna and cracker combo.

Now, I like still like my tuna salad with sweet pickles, but only diced (with some of the juice), along with a little onion, some garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Occasionally, I’ll add a little chopped-up hard-cooked egg.

Once in while, I like to put tuna salad on a piece of bread, top it with some cheese and plop it in the oven under the broiler for a minute or two — my own tuna melt.

Here a couple of other variations of the tuna salad sandwich, along with three other sandwiches that would be great summer fare.  

Italian Tuna Sandwich
1 6-ounce can tuna in water, well drained
2 tablespoons low-fat or regular mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ rib celery, minced
½ teaspoon drained capers, chopped
8 slices French bread (cut each slice on diagonal about ½-inch thick), toasted
12 leaves arugula or spinach
Combine tuna, mayonnaise, onion, parsley, lemon juice, celery and capers in small bowl. Spread tuna mixture on top of four slices of bread. Top each with 3 leaves arugula. Top with remaining slice of bread.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 410 calories, 11 percent calories from fat, 4.8 grams fat (0.9 grams saturated), 25 milligrams cholesterol, 1,070 milligrams sodium, 58 grams carbohydrates, 31 grams protein, 3.7 grams fiber.

Tuna Nicoise Sandwich
1 6-ounce can tuna in oil, well drained
4 nicoise or other black olives, pitted, chopped
1 hard-cooked egg, peeled, chopped
1 tablespoon each: mayonnaise, diced red bell pepper
1½ teaspoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 pieces (6 inches long) baguette, halved lengthwise
2 leaves Boston lettuce
1 tomato, thinly sliced
Combine tuna with olives, egg, mayonnaise, pepper, parsley, oil, mustard and vinegar in small bowl.
Layer lettuce, tuna mixture and tomato on bottom half of each sandwich. Cover with remaining bread halves.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 360 calories, 48 percent calories from fat, 19 grams fat (3.6 grams saturated), 135 milligramsg cholesterol, 715 milligrams sodium, 18 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 2 grams fiber.

Mediterranean Turkey Wraps
2 12-inch flour tortillas, room temperature
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 ounces smoked turkey
10 kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see note)
2 tablespoons each: diced roasted red pepper, chopped basil
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Spread one side of each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise. Top with turkey. Sprinkle olives, pine nuts, red pepper, basil and cheese on top, leaving 1-inch border all around.
Fold each side over filling by ½-inch; roll up tightly starting from unfolded end.
Note: To toast pine nuts, place on baking sheet. Toast in 425-degree oven until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 575 calories, 51 percent calories from fat, 33 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 55 milligrams cholesterol, 1,635 milligrams sodium, 48 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 4.3 grams fiber.

Asian Chicken and Peanut Butter Sandwich
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 pita breads, halved
4 leaves leaf curly lettuce
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
½ apple, thinly sliced
Combine peanut butter and teriyaki sauce in small bowl; spread on inside of each pita half.
Stuff each pita with lettuce, cilantro, chicken and apple.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 530 calories, 38 percent calories from fat, 23 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 60 milligrams cholesterol, 1,215 milligrams sodium, 49 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 5 grams fiber.

Mozzarella, Tomato and Pesto on Ciabatta
4 slices ciabatta
4 tablespoons prepared pesto
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 leaves red leaf lettuce
Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of the pesto.
Top two of the bread slices with mozzarella, tomato and lettuce.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutrition analysis per sandwich: 495 calories, 53 percent calories from fat, 29 grams fat (12 grams saturated), 55 milligrams cholesterol, 675 milligrams sodium, 36 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 3.4 grams fiber.