Your job as a parent is not always to please. This is true in all things, including the dinner table. Teaching my children that the world is not, in fact, theirs to command is high on my list of things to accomplish in the day.
So I sometimes make things for dinner that I know will be a struggle, like these English Muffin Tuna Melts. I knew my children would not be in love these, because one of my favorite easy lunches for myself is a quick tuna salad on toast, and they always make yucky faces at me while I’m eating it.
TEACHING KIDS TO LIKE TUNA
But you know what? I make them anyway because A) I LOVE Tuna Melts, and these easy English muffins are damn tasty, and B) they need to get used to not always getting exactly what they want.
As my four-year-old’s teacher says on loop: “You get what you get. And you don’t throw a fit!”
Be sure to read the report card below to see how these Tuna Melts actually played out on our dinner table!
MAKING A GOOD TUNA SALAD
For me, a good tuna salad needs a few things:
- It has to have some crunch to it. The last thing you want is a mushy salad, so adding some crunchy veggies such as celery, red onion, and red pepper is a must.
- It has to have balanced flavors. Some lemon or some acid helps balance out the rich flavors in the salad. A pinch of salt and pepper is always a good idea, and maybe even a dollop of mustard!
- Third, and maybe most importantly, try to use good canned tuna. In theory, any canned tuna will work great, but finding a white albacore tuna is a great start to a great salad! Personally, I prefer the oil-packed tuna, but some people prefer water-packed. Either is fine for this recipe.
Once you have the salad mixed up, you can add it to many things. Eat it over lettuce for a true tuna salad, or make a sandwich out of it. These English Muffin Tuna Melts are my new favorite thing, and easy to eat!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST TUNA MELTS
There are a few things to keep in mind to make these tuna muffin melts really delicious.
For starters, don’t overstuff the muffins. I like to use about two tablespoons of tuna salad per English muffin half. You should be able to make about eight muffin halves out of one batch of tuna salad.
Next, let’s talk soggy muffins. Generally, you might be inclined to toast the muffins to prevent them from getting too soggy. The problem, though, is that if you toast the muffins, they will burn after you bake the melts.
So don’t toast them. Instead, put half a slice of Swiss cheese between the muffin and the tuna salad. That will keep the moisture away from the muffin and prevent it from getting too soggy.
Do those few things, and you’ll have some really delicious tuna muffin melts!
SERVING OPTIONS FOR TUNA MELT MUFFINS
For a light dinner, though, I can eat two or three of these muffins with some of the pickled veggies and be full!
The DAD ADD: Quick Pickled Veggies!
Again, the thing I’m always looking to add to tuna salad is crunch and acidity. So these quick pickled veggies are the perfect addition. I like to keep it simple with thinly sliced carrots and radishes, stirred with some pickles and pickle juice right out of my fridge.
These are pretty addictive and I find myself snacking on them while I wait for the muffins to bake!
THE REPORT CARD
Well, as expected, I faced down a dinner revolt when my kids learned we were having these tuna melt muffins.
It should be noted that they have never had tuna melts before, so their aversion to them was not based on experience.
When I’m expecting a dinner revolt, I recommend trying to calm the situation by asking a lot of questions. I go all Socratic Method on my kids.
- What do you not like about the dinner?
- Do you like other kinds of fish?
- Do you like toast on its own?
- Do you like grilled cheese?
- Do you think Lebron James eats these? (This is a very important question in our house.)
Most of these questions go unanswered, but occasionally you can spark a conversation!
Usually, after a line of questioning, I can get them to at least try a thing. Even if they don’t try it, you can still get them talking about it. Don’t just let them sit there all smug-mug with something you spent money and time on!
But, yeah. My kids tried zero bites of this dinner. Dinner was yogurt and apple sauce on this particular night.
More Kid-Friendly Recipes:
English Muffin Tuna Melts Recipe
DAD ADD: Quick Pickled Veggies:
- 1 medium carrot
- 5 radishes
- 1/2 pickle
- 3 to 4 tablespoons pickle juice
For the Tuna Melts:
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons minced red pepper
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 cans (about 10 total ounces) albacore tuna, oil or water packed
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 4 whole English muffins
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
1 DAD ADD! Make the pickled veggies: Peel and slice the carrot in half down its length and then into thin half-coins. Slice the radishes in half and then slice into half-coins as well. Do the same with the pickle.
Stir the vegetables together with 3 tablespoons of pickle juice to coat. Set aside for a few minutes while you make the tuna melt muffins. Taste, and add more pickle juice if needed.
2 Preheat oven to 400°F.
3 Make the tuna mixture: In a medium bowl, stir together minced celery, onion, red pepper, salt, pepper, and tuna. Fold in the mayo last.
3 Prep the tuna melts: Spread out English muffin halves on a baking sheet. Add half a slice of Swiss cheese to the bottom of each muffin. Top each muffin with about two tablespoons of tuna salad mix. Top with second half of cheese.
4 Bake: Bake the tuna melts for 12 to 15 minutes until muffins are browned around the edges and the cheese is melted.
5 Serve: Serve while warm with pickled veggies on the side (optional).
Prepared tuna melts don’t keep well, but the tuna salad mix keeps well for a few days in the fridge, and you can make the muffins on demand.
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