Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grilled Tuna Carciofi Sandwich with Ditali Pasta Salad

A healthy grilled cheese sandwich?  Yes, it is possible!
     The classic Italian flavors of this grilled sandwich are very nice.  Tuna, olive oil, artichoke and kalamata olives make this sandwich taste special.
     I used to cook this sandwich in a cafe that won the Gold Spoon Award for 29 years in a row.  We were very famous for trendy food and fine desserts at the upstairs cafe.  The cafe was the place to go for a light meal, coffee and dessert.  Our sister restaurant was on the first floor of the building.  Our fine dining restaurant was the finest restaurant in Florida for a very long time.  I was ambitious in those days and I cooked a haute Provence lunch downstairs in the daytime and and the lighter fare dinner upstairs at the cafe all night for a 14 hour long work day, but the pay was rewarding.  The two restaurants had two totally different menus.  The great chefs of the world dined at our restaurants, looking for inspiration.  Our clientele was the rich and famous mixed with regular folks who liked fine food.  That business was a great place for a chef to "let it all hang out!".  We served very creative trendy food.
     Recipe:  Drain the water from a quality can of tuna.  (Or bake a piece of fresh tuna with olive oil and then crumble the tuna.)  Some brands of tuna are much better than others.  A light flaky albacore tuna is best for this recipe.
     Place about 4 ounces of the tuna in a mixing bowl.
     Add a few pitted kalamata olives.
     Add a few sliced artichoke hearts.
     Add a splash of virgin olive oil.
     Add a pinch of oregano.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Toss the ingredients together and set them aside.
     Brush two bread slices with olive oil.  (French bread loaf, Italian bread, sour dough or rye bread is best for this sandwich.)
     Place some sliced mozzarella cheese on the bread.
     Grill the bread in a skillet over medium heat.
     Place the carciofi tuna mix on one of the bread slices while grilling.
     When the sandwich is grilled golden brown and the cheese has melted, place the two sandwich halves together and slice the sandwich in half on a cutting board.
     Set the sandwich halves on a plate.
     Garnish with Italian parsley sprigs.
     Ditali Pasta Salad Recipe:  Boil some Ditali pasta in water till it is al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta using a sieve.
     Place the pasta in a mixing bowl.
     Add a little bit each of fine diced carrot, onion and green onion.
     Add a pinch of basil.
     Add a pinch of paprika.
     Add a pinch of minced garlic.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add enough mayonnaise to lightly coat the ingredients.  (Don't use too much mayonnaise in this salad.)
     Mix the ingredients together and chill.
     Place the pasta salad on the plate using a ring mold.
     The bold flavor of kalamata olives is welcome in this tuna carciofi sandwich.  The flavor of this sandwich is indescribably good!  So satisfying and healthy!  The ditali salad is a nice accompaniment with this grilled sandwich.  This is a very nice alternative to the standard tuna melt sandwich.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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