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Tuna and Pineapple Cheese Melt Panini

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Tuna and pineapple may at first seem like strange culinary bedfellows but the two are actually moderately popular pizza topping combinations. This sandwich is therefore loosely based on the pizza concept, incorporating in addition to the main ingredients the melted cheese, a bread based component and a tomato garnish for the serving plate representing the obligatory pizza sauce which is comprised largely of tomatoes. While fresh tuna is used in this instance and really does produce by far the best results, canned tuna could easily be substituted in its place if desired.

Tuna and Pineapple Cheese melt panini
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tuna and pineapple cheese melt with tomato and basil garnish

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 4 to 6 ounce fresh tuna loin steak, just over an inch thick
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pineapple rings (canned in own juice, not syrup)
  • 1 panini bread roll or similar
  • 4 or 5 slices, or as required, hard cheese such as cheddar
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 1 medium tomato


Starting to Grill Tuna
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Oiled and seasoned tuna fillet is added to hot grill pan

The tuna fillet could be cooked in an ordinary frying pan if you wish but cooking it either on the outdoor grill or on an indoor grill pan such as this one gives it a far more attractive finish and also cooks it more quickly. Start by putting the dry pan on to a very high heat and allow it around three or four minutes to become smoking hot. When the pan is hot enough, oil the tuna fillet all over (a pastry brush is a great tool for performing this task) and season with salt and pepper. Lay the fillet carefully in the hot pan to cook for an initial three minutes. 

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Frying Tuna on Second Side
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tuna is turned to grill on second side

When the three minutes are up, use cooking tongs to turn the tuna to fry for a similar period of time on its second side. When the tuna is almost done, put your broiler (overhead grill) on to preheat to maximum.

Grilling Pineapple Rings
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Briefly grilling pineapple rings

Lift the cooked tuna fillet to a chopping board to rest briefly but keep the high heat on under the grill pan. Lightly oil the pineapple rings and fry for thirty seconds only on each side before also lifting to the chopping board. The grill pan can now be turned off but do remember that it takes a long time to cool down in comparison to other pans and it should be left alone to do so before any attempt is made to move or clean it. 

Grilled Tuna and Pineapple
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Grilled tuna fillet and pineapple rings

Cut the panini or similar roll in half and lightly toast the cut side of the bottom half only at this stage under your broiler. While the roll is toasting, slice the tuna fillet fairly thickly with a very sharp knife in to four or five slices. You should find it wonderfully moist, pink and succulent in the middle, which is the way fish like tuna should ideally be served.

Tuna Slices Laid on Panini Base
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tuna slices are laid first on the toasted panini

Lay the toasted roll base on a clean chopping board or plate. Arrange the tuna slices on top in a single layer. You may not need all of them but any excess can be enjoyed as a prelude to the main dish while the sandwich is back under the broiler.

Pineapple Laid on Tuna
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Pineapple is arranged on top of tuna slices

Cut the pineapple rings in half and lay on top of the tuna as shown.

Cheese Laid on Pineapple
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cheese slices top pineapple and tuna

The cheese slices should now be laid on top of the pineapple. Be sure to make them overlap very slightly or you may be left with little gaps as the cheese shrinks under the heat. You should also cut or break up a slice as necessary to fill in any empty corners. Carefully lift the assembly on to your broiling tray or pan and lay the top half of the panini alongside, cut side up. Place under your broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the panini top is toasted (the toasting of the panini may not take as long as the cheese will take to melt).

Basil Scattered over Melted Cheese
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Basil is scattered over melted cheese

A large spatula should be used to lift your cheese melted panini to a chopping board. Roll the four basil leaves together in to a mini cigar shape and finely slice across the way. Separate the strands and scatter half of them on top of the melted cheese.

Panini Sliced to Serve
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tuna and pineapple cheese melt is sliced to serve

Lift the panini top on to the main body of the sandwich and very lightly press down. Cut in half at a forty-five degree angle.

Cutting Tomato for Garnish Presentation
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tomato cut simply but decoratively in half

It's incredibly easy to cut a tomato in half this way to give it extra visual appeal on a plate. Firstly, wash the tomato and pat dry with kitchen paper. Hold it between the second finger and thumb of your weaker hand with your finger on the top which was attached to the vine and your thumb on the base. Rest the side of the tomato on a chopping board.

A small paring knife is best used for this task but any firm, narrow bladed and exceptionally sharp knife will do. Start by making a cut in to the central circumference of the tomato at a forty-five degree angle, all the way through to the core but not right through the tomato. Make a second cut at the opposite forty-five degree angle, making sure the two cuts touch at the top or bottom as applies and continue this alternate cutting motion all the way around the tomato. You should then very easily be able to pull the two halves apart. Season each half with a little salt and garnish with the remaining strands of basil.

Lay the sandwich halves facing in opposite directions on a square serving plate and a tomato half at the top of each slice to serve.  



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