Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mediterranean Tuna Panini with Feta, Olives, and Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Simple canned tuna makes a tasty, casual dinner when you dress it up in something other than mayo and chopped celery. And grilling the bread turns an ordinary sandwich into a hot, crunchy panini. This recipe combines tuna with Mediterranean flavors and ingredients sandwiched between pieces of grilled baguette—like a Greek salad sitting on a big French crouton.

I think it’s important to keep sustainability in mind when purchasing canned or fresh seafood (or any food, for that matter), and sometimes it’s as simple as reading the label on the product. I used wild albacore tuna, no-salt-added, packed in water, and noted as “100% pole & troll caught” on the side of the can. There are several good canned tunas on the market, so go green with whatever is most available in your area.

Albacore Tuna
While we don’t normally think of sandwiches as light, lean meals, I’ll argue that this one is at least close to it. I used small pieces of baguette per sandwich simply to cut down on the volume of bread and replaced fatty mayonnaise with plain Greek yogurt in the sauce. Feta has a mild, yet briny taste, so you don’t need much to give the tuna mixture a flavor boost. And the rest of the ingredients? Lemon juice, garlic, olives, cucumber, tomato, and watercress—fresh and natural. What’s not lean (or to love) about that?

Serves 4

  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 5-oz cans of wild albacore tuna (preferably no salt added)
  • 1/2 cup thin slices of pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 long baguette, cut crosswise into 4 even pieces, each piece sliced into bottom and top
  • 16 very thin slices of cucumber
  • 12 very thin slices of roma tomato
  • 1 cup trimmed watercress
  • olive oil, for brushing
  1. Combine the garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and cumin in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
  1. Combine the tuna, olives, and feta in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt mixture to the tuna mixture and stir well to combine.
Tuna, Feta, and Olive Mixture
Tuna Mixture with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
  1. Lay the bread slices on a work surface and divide the tuna mixture on the bottom halves. Top the tuna with cucumber, tomato, and watercress. Place the tops on the sandwiches and gently press together.
Tuna-Sauce Mixture on the Baguette
Sandwiches Ready to Top
Sandwiches Ready to Grill
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and brush with olive oil. Place 2 sandwiches in the pan and place a grill press on top (or use a small, heavy skillet as a press).
  2. Grill 2-3 minutes on 1 side until the bread is toasted and shows grill marks. Turn and grill, pressing, 2 minutes on the other side.
  3. Remove the panini to a cutting board and repeat with the other 2 sandwiches. Slice each panini on the diagonal and serve hot or at room temperature.
Grilled Panini

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