A better title would probably be “Son of Bruschetta al Tonno,” since it’s basically a cross between that dish and your run-of-the-mill tuna on toast. This is a typical offense for yours truly: much to what I imagine would be the horror of my Italian teacher if I had the guts to tell him, I have made a habit of taking perfectly good Italian recipes and then Americanizing them in the most offensive ways possible.
One has to be very, very careful with these sorts of tendencies, since it only takes two or three steps down that primrose path before you find your mailbox full of copyright infringement notices from the Olive Garden. However, the benefits of culinary sacrilege often outweigh the drawbacks when you’ve got very few groceries to work with. After clearing the last of the Passover leftovers out of the fridge, and watching the tumbleweed skitter past my last two pieces of sandwich bread and a clamshell of basil poised to wilt, I decided that I should actually use one of the cans of tuna in the cupboard rather than just being disappointed in it.
Sacrilege aside, you should know that this is an absolutely wonderful meal. So much so that you might even want to throw that second piece of bread on top (I have to save mine for lunch tomorrow, but you should go ahead and live large) and make an honest sandwich out of her. It makes me wonder why we don’t always put sautéed garlic in tuna. Seriously.
A Super-American, Open-Faced Tuna Sandwich
-1 can of tuna in olive oil
-1 or 2 pieces of bread
-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 tbs olive oil
-1 medium tomato, diced
-3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
-salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
Crack open that can of tuna and put it in a bowl, draining off as much of the oil as possible. Heat a pan on medium-high and add your olive oil, letting it sizzle a bit. Add the garlic and sauté until just brown, which will happen almost immediately — don’t overdo it! Now use your spatula to pull the garlic out of the pan and add it to the tuna rather than dumping it all in, since you want some garlicky oil left over in the pan to fry your bread in. That’s right, you are frying your bread instead of rubbing it lovingly with garlic and oil and letting it cloak itself in an exquisite layer of carbon under the heat of an artisanal Italian oven made of thousand-year-old clay. You are making trashy bruschetta (pronounced “broo-shetta”) and not the real stuff, so don’t get any highfalutin ideas.
Once your bread is browned on both sides (I like to rub it around the pan to make sure I’ve picked up all the oil, and this has the added effect of making it fry to a better color, faster), put it on a plate and top it with the chopped tomato. Now you need to mix your tuna with the sautéed garlic, so add a bit of salt and a whole lot of freshly ground pepper (trust me, the fresh-groundness is key, as is the amount — you will need about half a teaspoon to a teaspoon to make the magic happen). Mix with a fork and pile high on the tomato-covered bread, topping with the basil. If you want to get crazy, you can add chopped olives, but I’m kind of feeling the purist vibe today. Bread, tomato, tuna, basil. La ricetta più facile del mondo, dude.