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With an indulgent time of year approaching, I’m always looking for ways to make our meals a little lighter. And I’m always looking for ways to quickly and easily feed guests. Enter these Italian Tuna Melts! They are a classic comfort food with a lighter spin. Instead of mayo to coat the tuna, I used Mazola® Corn Oil and balsamic vinegar. A clinical study showed Mazola Corn Oil reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim, see Mazola.com.
I chose Mazola Corn Oil because it has a neutral taste that won’t compete with the flavors in the Italian Tuna Melts. It’s also great for baking (hello, holiday baking season!) and in marinades and salad dressings. Case in point: I made my Church Lady Salad with olive oil the other week and it completely took over the flavor of the salad and frankly ruined it. Now I know—stick with a neutral oil like corn oil!
Corn oil also has a higher smoke point than a lot of cooking oils (450°F) so it’s safe for sautéing, stir frying, and grilling, without negatively affecting the taste of the food. Now onto these Italian Tuna Melts! I’m just envisioning eating these the day before Thanksgiving, when I don’t want to cook. That’s the tough thing about meal planning around the holidays—you’re so focused on the food for the big day that it’s hard to think about other meals.
Italian Tuna Melts would be a great night-before-Thanksgiving dinner with minimal fuss and effort. They are a good balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbs so fuel you without weighing you down, too.
First, mix the vinaigrette: ¼ cup Mazola Corn Oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. I use this in place in the mayonnaise as a lighter swap due to the corn oil having less saturated fat than mayonnaise.
Next prep your ingredients: tuna, red bell pepper, red onion, parsley, dried oregano, and salt.
Then toast the bread. I chose a nine-grain bread loaded with oats, seeds, and whole wheat flour (hooray for more fiber!), instead of traditional white bread.
Then pile on the tuna salad.
Add the cheese (I chose a low-fat sliced mozzarella instead of a higher fat cheese) and bake until the cheese is melted! You could even use an extra-thin sliced cheese to cut the calories a little more.
We absolutely devoured these sandwiches on the evening before throwing a big dinner party. They were quick to make and a better-for-you option than a traditional, mayo-laden tuna melt. And they didn’t weigh me down so I could keep prepping food for the following day.
Best of all? These were seriously GOOD! The bell pepper, red onion, parsley, and oregano add the perfect amount of flavor to the tuna, and who can resist a slice of gooey (low-fat!) cheese on top?
They would also be great for feeding friends who come over to watch football, or for a cozy afternoon around the house!
Italian Tuna Melts
- ¼ cup Mazola corn oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 5 oz cans tuna packed in water, drained
- ½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 slices low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 6 slices whole grain bread
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the whole wheat bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15–18 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the Mazola corn oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Place the tuna, red pepper, red onion, parsley, oregano, and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the corn oil and vinegar mixture. Toss gently to combine.
- Divide the tuna mixture evenly between the six slices of toasted bread. Top each with a slice of low-fat mozzarella.
- Bake for 5–7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.