Tuna melts are a perennial comfort food favorite. Some are toasted, others grilled, but this one’s in a class by itself.
We are well into Lent, but recently, a Friday sneaked up on me. Whoops.
In our church, we abstain from eating meat on Fridays during these six holy weeks. It’s a way of humbling ourselves to simplicity and frugality.
In ancient times, only the very wealthy could afford meat. For us, it’s minimal discipline. For Jesus and his followers, a small meal of only bread and fish was common.
Here’s what happened. I had already started a batch of dough to make Runzas. I caught myself just in time. The ground beef filling would have to wait for another day!
Suddenly, it occurred to me. Why not fill a yeasty bread pocket with tuna? After all, who doesn’t love a tuna melt? Basic comfort food, isn’t it?
Years ago, hot tuna sandwiches were all the rage. Tasty little foil-wrapped tuna sandwiches were stacked in crock pots to stay hot. They were popular at post-game get-togethers and school dances.
Back then, farmers in the harvest field chowed down happily on them when they stopped to eat a quick meal. Why couldn’t tuna be baked inside a runza?
Runza comes from the Low German word “runsa.” which describes the shape of a soft, round belly. I could go for some tuna in my belly!
These Tasty Tuna Melts Are Baked Inside A Hot Yeasty Bread Pocket
This yummy-sounding tuna salad recipe with melty cheese and salty olives seemed perfect for a hot sandwich.
Mash some hard-cooked eggs.
Add grated cheddar cheese, onion, olives, pickle relish, and mayo to well-drained tuna.
Instead of cabbage and beef, fill the dough with tuna salad!
Pinch the pockets shut.
Bake them seam side down until they are golden brown, then brush them with melted butter.
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 packets dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp if using bulk yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter for the dough
- About 6 cups all purpose flour
- 2-3 Tbsp butter to brush on baked product
- 2 tsp of cooking oil or olive oil to put on the dough while rising
Tuna Salad Filling
- 1 12-ounce can good quality water-packed white tuna drained well
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and mashed
- 2 Tbsp onion or green onion, chopped fine
- 3 Tbsp sweet or dill pickle relish
- 2 Tbsp pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped fine
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise, or enough to moisten the filling
- Yeast Dough is easiest to make using a heavy-duty stand mixer.
- Put warm water, yeast, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl and add a cup of flour.
- Using whip beater attachment, mix thoroughly. Stop occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl. (Hint: grab a clean dish towel and wrap it around the bowl to corral fly-away flour.)
- Add 2 cups of flour, one at a time, and beat well.
- Switch to the dough hook and keep adding flour gradually until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
- Stop the mixer and feel the dough. If it's still sticky, add a tablespoon or so of flour at a time and resume kneading with the dough hook.
- Stop adding flour when the dough is soft but you can handle it without it sticking to your fingers.
- Great bread dough should feel satiny and elastic.
- Remove the dough hook and gather the dough into a ball.
- Spray the bowl generously with non-stick cooking spray and return the dough to the bowl. It's not necessary to wash the bowl before you do this.
- Smooth a little cooking oil or olive oil over the surface of the dough to keep it from drying out. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and put it in a warm place to rise until it is double in size. This can take about an hour.
- When the dough has doubled in size, divide it into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a thin oval about 6" by 8".
- Put a scoop of tuna filling on each piece of dough.
- Bring sides together and pinch shut. Pinch the ends shut. This will form a roughly rectangular pocket.
- Put them seam-side down on a greased baking pan and let them rise a second time until double. This will take about 30 minutes.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
- Brush with melted butter and serve hot.
- Tuna Salad Instructions
- Drain the tuns well, pressing out as much water as you can.
- Mash the hard-cooked eggs in a bowl.
- Add tuna, onion, pickle relish, olives, and grated cheese to the eggs.
- Stir in 1/3 cup of mayonnaise and blend all ingredients thoroughly.
- Set aside to put in dough pockets.
Serve them alongside pickles and potato chips! Good eating!
Great news! They reheat beautifully in a low oven or microwave.
What Happens When My Mind Runza Way With Me
I was super pumped about how well these turned out! My husband liked them so much he ate two! So, I went crazy and came up with several ideas for changing up our beloved Runzas!
What do you think of these ideas?
Corned beef and cabbage Runzas.
Italian Runzas with pepperoni, beef, and mozzarella cheese.
Vegetarian Runzas with beans, cabbage, onions and carrots
Breakfast Runzas with eggs, ham, and cheese.
Mexican Runzas with refried beans, beef, onions and cheese.
Who knows what else we can dream up together! Ooooh! How about dessert Runzas with apple cinnamon filling?
If you enjoyed this recipe today, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. I’d sure be tickled and ever so grateful, thank you!
If you haven’t already, check out my Facebook page where I’ll be posting easy, delicious and family-friendly recipes every week!
Love, GB (Betty Streff)