Tuesday, May 10, 2011

a special lunch-time recipe for busy mamas

I have a new favorite lunch recipe I'd like to share with you!

. . . it is the most delicious version of a tuna melt I have ever tasted . . .

. . . it's super-quick . . . 

. . . it's nice-and-easy . . . 

. . . I can keep all of the ingredients on hand in my pantry . . .

. . . it's full of healthy things like fresh garlic and artichokes and fresh lemons - all so good for you! . . .

. . . and an added bonus is that the kiddos probably won't be asking for bites and eating it all up on you :) . . . 

. . . it's a little something special . . .

just . for . mama .

And every mom needs that once in awhile!

Tuna and Artichoke Panini
~ adapted from Giada's Family Dinners ~

3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 TB olive oil
2 garlic cloves (or more if you ♥ garlic like I do)
juice squeezed from 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Blend all of the above ingredients in a food processor or blender until it's mostly smooth-ish.  Maybe 30 seconds.  (It looks a little funny because the olives turn everything a little purple - but it is sooo good!)  Pour the mixture into a plastic container to store in the fridge until you're ready to use it.  

(Besides making a great sandwich spread, the recipe says it would make a great salad dressing or could be tossed with hot or cold pasta.  I'm thinking it would also be a yummy dip for crackers or a spread for bruschetta.)

2 cans oil-packed tuna *
12 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained ** and coarsely chopped
juice from the other 1/2 of the lemon
black pepper (freshly ground if you have a peppermill!)
some good italian bread
1 tomato (optional)
cheese (optional)

Next, mix together the tuna, artichoke hearts, lemon & pepper, and transfer to another storage container for the fridge. 

When its time to make lunch, just slice up your bread and spread two slices with butter (for grilling in the pan...just like a grilled cheese).   Spread the other side of the slices with the olive spread (be generous!), and add the tuna mixture along with any cheese or tomatoes (my favorite is provolone cheese, but cheddar is great, too!).  Then fry it up!  

Of course, if you have a panini maker - that would be perfect for this recipe.  But since I don't, I just use my frying pan & a wooden spoon to press down on the sandwich while it's frying, to flatten it up.  Not necessary, but I like it that way!

And that's it!  Time to enjoy a delicious lunch!

. . . a few extra tips about the ingredients . . .

The recipe calls for pitted kalamata olives, which are not the same as the standard black olives you buy in a can.  They are traditional black, greek olives and have a "real" olive flavor...if you've never tasted these before, you should pick up a jar just to try! I don't think the usual black olives would work well in this recipe.

Pitted kalamatas are pretty easy to find.  Any Italian deli will sell them behind the counter....I've seen them in the deli at our Jewel and Dominicks...I've seen them sold in a jar at Jewel.... but my favorite place to buy them is at Costco.  You get a HUGE jar for a great price....and then you can keep them in the fridge for snacking or for making many batches of this recipe!

Costco also carries a giant jar of marinated artichoke hearts, which is another great snack to keep on hand, or to add to any salad, or sandwiches...

*I know everyone says albacore tuna isn't the best to eat, but it sure tastes the best!  I prefer to buy tuna packed in water....so I add a little of the marinade from the artichokes to the tuna mix for an extra punch of flavor.  Yum!

**Save some of the artichoke marinade to add to your tuna if needed!

Happy Cooking!


  1. This sounds delicious!!! My kind of comfort food! ;-)

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yum! Although I think my kids would gobble this up as well. They love tuna. But this would be a good thing. Thanks for a twist on an old favorite.

  3. Hi Collette!

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for your always kind comments! You are such an encouragement to me!! :)

    Yummy sandwich and I love that it is a "special" treat for mommy in the midst of all the ordinary tasks of the day! I wonder how it would taste with chicken in place of tuna? I wish I enjoyed fish more, but for some reason I never have. I've always been the odd one out in my extended family...as a kid we'd visit my grandparent's house on the bay and my uncles would take the boat out fishing, crabbing and shrimping. The ladies would cook when they came home...fish fry, sea food gumbo, etc. I always begged for McDonalds!! Funny memory that just resurfaced!! :)

    I enjoy your blog so much!!
    Take care,

  4. I began reading this post this morning before I left for the grocery store.
    Then, I was called to the bathroom to assist with teeth brushing.
    Then I forgot to write down everything I would need to make these tomorrow and so when I just got back a few min ago your blog was still up on my computer...with of course this most delicious sounding recipe.

    I'm really looking forward to trying this. I wonder if you could use fresh artichoke. They are on sale right now here for .49cents and the canned artichoke down here are almost $4 a can. I would think that you could, just cook it well.

    Can't wait to try it!!!
    {sorry such a long comment;)

  5. Oh, Amanda - LOL, I just did the same thing...got back from the grocery this afternoon & forgot to buy some key items, like milk and toilet paper - looks like we're going back, haha (can't make it w/o that one!)

    I bet cooked artichokes would work just fine - maybe sautee them in olive oil & lemon juice? Or maybe just add some vinaigrette dressing after they're cooked for flavor?

    I'd love to hear how it turns out!!

  6. Colette,
    Thanks for visiting my blog....about the math review.
    You're recipe sounds delicious, except for the olives. :) I do not like olive! But a variation of this sandwich without them would still be delicious.

    I am going to spend some time reading more of your recipes.

    Have a great day!


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Things are pretty busy around our house, so I can't always leave as many replies as I would like to. But please know that I look forward to reading every note you send my way - they brighten my day! Blessings,Collette

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