My approach to cooking is most definitely liberal – then again I would extend that statement to much of life in general. Whilst there are times that I will follow instructions to the letter (I do enjoy reading a product manual more than the average Joe), there is many the occasion that I will not paint between the lines. At the last count I have over 100 cooking books, use these for inspiration then go off and do my own thing. It is very common that we will not be able to source every ingredient listed – instead we tweak or substitute and end up with something new. Other times, like this Chimichurri Tuna Melt Panini recipe – the idea of making a more traditional Tuna Melt recipe simply did not appeal to me. I just wanted to create a version which packed a lot more flavour. The additional ingredient is something we make on a very regular basis – fresh Chimichurri sauce. It should also go without saying – it makes for both a delicious and quick lunch/brunch options during these more uncertain times.
Our introduction to Chimichurri sauce
Whilst there is a lot I love about living in a small hamlet on the outskirts of Wakefield, the main disappointment has been the local dining scene. Then again, as we plough through week 8,9,10 of the Coronavirus lockdown (I have now lost count) – there has been absolutely nothing open anywhere. Beggars cannot be choosers. One of our pre-Coronavirus favourite eating venues, is by far, Estabulo Rodizio Bar & Grill. It was also our very first introduction to Chimichurri sauce. Drizzling Chimichurri Sauce on top of already beautifully cooked beef or chicken thigh really took the flavour…. to the next level. I so welcome the reopening of Estabulo and other restaurants alike truly hoping that they can afford to operate and prepare for a new normal. Whatever that will be.
Whilst a Chimichurri sauce’s core ingredients are chilli, garlic, parsley, and vinegar, there are numerous iterations. If you search online, you’ll find many variations of Chimichurri – and the history is even more intriguing. According to www.196flavours.com, we have a 19th Century Irish Soldier to thank for its invention:
The most common origin of the word honours its inventor, an Irish soldier named Jimmy McCurry, who in the nineteenth century, was travelling with indigenous troops to fight for the independence of Argentina. However, since the name Jimmy McCurry was difficult to pronounce for indigenous people, this sauce, which they simply called “Jimmy” originally, quickly became chimichurri, their way of pronouncing the name of its inventor.
Before venturing into the Chimichurri Tuna Melt Panini recipe, you will first need to have make Chimichurri sauce. This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
- 3 large cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 2 red chillis stalk removed, and roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes heaped
- 50 g fresh coriander including stalks
- 50 g flat leaf parsley including stalks
- 0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Place roughly chopped red chillis and garlic in a mini-food processor, add the red wine vinegar, and blitz for a few seconds.
- Using a silicone spatula, scrape down the side walls of the chopping bowl so that the ingredients are all at the bottom.
- Add the olive oil, sea salt flakes, and black pepper, and blitz again for 10-20 seconds. Scrape down ingredients back to the bottom again.
- Trim and discard the tips of the parsley and coriander stalks, the roughly chop the stalks and blitz for 20-30 seconds.
- Scrape the ingredients once more to the bottom, then add the parsley leaves, blitz for a few seconds, followed by the coriander leaves.
- Blitz once more time, then pour out into an airtight container.
Chimichurri Tuna Melt Panini
Now that you have seen how quick and easy it is to make your own Chimichurri sauce, let’s get to the main event – the Chimicurri Tuna Melt Panini itself. For once (and an approach I hope to continue for future recipes, time permitting), I have included a step-by-step image gallery to illustrate the process.
Chimichurri Tuna Melt Panini
- 4 tbsp Chimichurri sauce
- 2 Panini breads sliced in half
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced into rings
- 0.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 tin tuna steak in sping water drained
- chedder cheese thinly sliced
- Preheat panini press/ grill
- Carefully slice the panini breads in half, folding out. Spoon 1tbsp Chimichurri sauce on each side of the bread, leaving a 5-10mm gap towards the outer edge.
- Place the thinly sliced onion rings on the bottom half of the the bread.
- Carefully spoon around 1/3 tin drained tuna (per panini) on top of the onions, maintaining a gap around the outer edges.
- Place thin slices of cheddar cheese on top of the tuna.
- Fold over the top of the panini, and uses your fingers rub in a little olive oil over the top. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
- Place in sandwich toaster/grill, close the lid and press down. Cook for 5 minutes or so, or until the top of the panini is firm and first and crispy, and the contents start to ooze out of the sides.
- Remove from panini press /grill, slice in half, and serve.
I really hope you enjoy making and eating this as much as we do. I think we have made this 10-15 times to date, and struggle to get bored of it.