Mediterranean Tuna Melt

This is not your average tuna melt. Sure it has all the basics toasted bread, tuna, and cheese. It also has homemade aioli, olive tapenade, caramelized onions, and peppers.

Start by making the tapenade and the aioli. The flavors in both of these items need time to marry and develop. All of the ingredients for this sandwich are either cooked in or made with oil. Not wanting the sandwich to be greasy, I made the tapenade with less oil and a little chunkier than is traditional. I used only enough oil to coat and blend the ingredients. If you plan to make this tapenade in advance or have leftover, add extra oil to cover the veggies. This will keep your tapenade fresher, longer. Leftover tapenade can be used for cheese crostini, a topping for seared fish, or even mixed into a salad.

For the aioli and the tuna in this recipe, I used Confit Ahi. You can substitute canned tuna packed in oil, reserving the oil for the aioli. Not only does this cut down on waste, but it also adds a little extra umami to the sandwiches. When making aioli, I prefer to use a hand-blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools). Using a food processor, blender, or whisking by hand works just as well.

These sandwiches were built using homemade Rosemary Garlic Focaccia. Any bread will work, but the flavors from the focaccia help to make this sandwich. To keep all those flavors, I used the outside (brown parts) of the bread for the inside of the sandwich and the inside white part for the outside. This gives the bread that nice toasted exterior you expect from grilled sandwiches.

There are a lot of toppings piled on the focaccia. While a messy sandwich is great for eating, it can be frustrating when building and cooking. To avoid headache, I put the heavier toppings on the bottom portion of bread and lighter ones on the top. I toast the top and bottom separately.
Putting the sandwich together when the bread is nice and brown and the cheese is melted. Finally, it’s time to eat, enjoy, and get messy!

MediterraneanTuna Melt

Course Main Course, Snack
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


Olive Tapenade

  • 1 cup Pitted castelveltrano olives 3/4 c chopped
  • 1 stalk celery minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt


  • 1 egg whole
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp garlic minced
  • 3 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup oil from confit ahi or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

Tuna Melt

  • 1 onion julienne
  • 1 red bell pepper julienne
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12-14 oz confit ahi or canned tuna in oil drained of oil
  • 8 pieces provolone
  • 4 pieces focaccia
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • arugula


Olive Tapenade

  • Finely chop olives, garlic, and celery and mix with other ingredients. Store until ready for use.


  • Mix all ingredients except oil with a hand blender. Slowly mix in the oil to emulsify. refrigerate until ready for use.

Tuna Melt

  • Julienne the onions and peppers. Heat a skillet with oil and caramelize onions and peppers over medium/medium high heat.
  • Slice the focaccia in half. Butter the inside white part of the focaccia, Slather the brown exterior part with aioli. Place a slice of cheese on the aioli. On one half place a scoop of onion mixture, tuna, and tapenade. Place arugula on the other half.
  • Heat a skillet on medium low. Toast both sides of the bread separately and assemble when brown and cheese has melted.

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