Open-Faced Tuna Melt: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 52

Hi guys!

Long time no see, eh?  We kind of disappeared off the map the last couple weeks, seeing as we just moved across the country.  But after a 30-hour drive and ample time to recuperate, we’re back with some brunch, which ended up being a meal I had a random and passionate craving for mid-week: a tuna melt.

Tuna melts always sound like greasy diner food to me, so I wanted to clean it up a bit – something hearty and flavorful with minimum processed ingredients.  We accomplished this by using mashed chickpeas as the tuna base, homemade cashew mayo, and a vegetable-based cheese sauce with just a bit of cheddar Daiya for gooeyness.  Instead of frying fries, we baked ’em instead, and served it all with a side salad to green things up a bit.

Open-Faced Tuna Melt
Makes about 8 toasts

For the chickpea salad:

1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons hot mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons neutral oil

2 generous cups cooked chickpeas, lightly mashed
1/2 cup diced dill pickles
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup finely chopped dill

In a blender, combine the cashews, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and water and blend until smooth.  With the blender still running, slowly drizzle in the oil until emulsified.  Since we have a very large blender, we made a double batch of the mayo sauce, and it turned out just fine.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed chickpeas, pickles, celery, onion and dill and stir.  Stir in the blended cashew mixture.

For the vegetable cheese sauce:

Follow my old recipe here.  The only changes I make to it after all this time is to use fresh mustard instead of powdered, and to sometimes use more salt.  It also tastes good with some nooch too, though it works just as well without it.

For assembly:

6-8 slices of bread
1 large tomato, slices
Tuna mixture
Cheese sauce mixture
Daiya cheddar cheese

First, toast the bread and preheat the oven to broil.  Place all the toasts on the baking sheet.  Add a tomato slice (or two) to each piece of toast, and then spoon on as much tuna mixture as you like, about 1/4 cup per slice of bread.  Drizzle on a generous amount of cheese sauce to each toast (about 2 tablespoons), and top with a sprinkle of cheddar Daiya (or a few thinly sliced cheddar pieces).  Place in the oven underneath the broiler for 3-5 minutes, rotating the pan if necessary, until everything is warm and gooey and the cheese has melted and browned slightly.  Serve toasts with baked fries and a side salad.  Enjoy!

For the baked sesame fries:

2 medium russet potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Dash salt and pepper

Julienne the potatoes into fry shapes and rinse them.  In a large bowl, soak the fries in warm water for 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Drain the potatoes and dry with a clean rag, toss with the neutral oil, and bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn the fries, adding a little more oil if necessary, and bake another 15 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes.  When they’re done, place ’em in a medium bowl and toss with the sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

 These fries were among the best baked fries we’ve made to date, and they really are worth trying with the addition of toasted sesame oil and seeds – they add a little savory somethin’ somethin’.  Of course, I can’t wrap up this blog post without one more comment on the tuna melt – it was gooey and decadent without being overly greasy or salty, which was exactly what I was in the mood for this morning.  Brunch win!

  • Nikki

    Yum! I love that you make the mayo, include pickles in the mix, and melt it up with daiya. The baked fries are a super bonus, too. Delicious looking brunch. Glad to see you back 🙂

  • xvavaveganx

    Congrats on the move! Definitely a great meal to come back with! Those fries look absolutely perfect and the open faced sandwich sounds so delicious. I love that you add the salad too, it adds a nice bright accent to the meal. Welcome back!

  • Kari

    Welcome back 🙂 I hope you're settling in well post move and this brunch certainly would suggest so!

  • Joey

    Thank god you're back. This internet has gone to hell in a handcart without you.

    When I saw that picture, I thought 'that salad looks amazing'. Yeah – all that and I was looking at the salad. I'm going to lie down now.

  • Jolene – EverydayFoodie

    I'm so excited to read your posts from Toronto! I've never been there but hope to go sooner than later. Sesame fries sound like the greatest thing EVER. I am a HUGE fan of sesame oil, and don't know why I've never thought to use it for fries.


    This is my ideal comfort food!!!!

  • foodfeud

    Fancy with the figs! Nice lookin sandwich too. I never really pull together a decent straight up chickpea tuna. But this looks awesome. I used to looove tuna melts, haha.
    Congratulations on the move!! How is mike getting by job-wise? You'll have to keep us all updated. A new friend at work is from Toronto so I'm stoked to see what you guys have to say about it!


    Additional note: Wow, 30-hour drive?! That sounds like a long drive, I hope you guys took a long rest! And I can understand the sudden urge to make good comfort food!!! I would do that, too, after long flights (usually between 15-30 hours including stopovers), I would buy so many Daiya products and make myself a quick grilled cheese sandwich with Tofurky and jalapenos. Hehe, I miss vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. We don't get them in Asia! 🙁 Mmmmmmm, maybe I will make this one when I come back from my 3-month trip in Spain & Argentina… makes me want to have "tuna melt" sandwich right now!!!! And wow, I need to check out your vegetable cheese sauce (that looks like a good cheeze there!)

  • Megan Clarke

    Damn! You guys drove? That sounds both fun and boring, lol, the boring part being the drive through the prairies. Congrats on the move! Hope everything went smoothly and you guys are getting settled.
    Omni tuna melts? Grosss! Vegan tuna melts? Mmmmmm. What can I say, the vegan version is the shit (the good kind not the bad) and these look awesomely tasty, especially with that cheese sauce.