A new twist on an old favorite, the tuna melt.
It’s Lent and recently, it kinda snuck up on me that it was a Friday. Whoops. In our church we abstain from eating meat on Fridays during these six weeks. It’s a way of humbling ourselves to simplicity and frugality. In ancient times only the very wealthy could afford meat. It’s a very small discipline but it does help us to be mindful of Jesus and his followers and their daily meals of bread and fish.
So, I had already started a batch of dough to make Runzas and then it occurred to me. There might just be lots more ways to stuff a pocket of bread than with beef. Why not 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. From suppers in the harvest field to post game get-togethers, you might find foil-wrapped tuna sandwiches stacked in crock pots to stay hot. So I thought why not try stuffing a Runza with tuna salad?
After all, Runza is simply a variation on the low German word runsa, which translates into “bun shape” or the shape of a soft, round belly. They were commonplace in the diets of field workers and families.
Lo and behold, I found a recipe for a hot tuna sandwich filling.
This one included hard cooked eggs.
Grated cheese, onion, olives, pickle relish and mayo along with tuna.
I just mixed it up and filled my dough with tuna salad instead of cabbage and beef!
Pinched them shut…
Baked them tummy side down til they were golden brown, brushed them with butter….
and served alongside pickles and chips!
Great news! They reheated beautifully on Saturday night when I took a break from cooking.
Hot Tuna Runzas
A twist on tuna melts, this tasty tuna salad is baked in a pocket of yeast dough, runza-style
For the Dough
- 2 cups warm water
- 5 tsp salt
- 2 packets dry yeast or 1 rounded Tablespoon I use rapid rise
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 cups all purpose flour approximate
- 2-3 Tbsp butter to brush on top of baked Runzas
Tuna Salad Filling
- 1 12 oz can good quality water packed tuna well drained
- 4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
- 4 eggs hard cooked and chopped
- 2 Tbsp onion or green onion chopped fine
- 3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish or dill if you prefer
- 2 Tbsp chopped pimento stuffed green olives
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise or enough to moisten
For the Dough
This is by far easier when you use a large stand mixer with a dough hook. Put warm water, yeast, sugar, salt and butter in bowl and add a cup of flour. Using whip beater attachment, mix thoroughly, scraping down sides of bowl.
Hint: grab a clean dish towel and wrap it around the bowl. That is unless you really enjoy cleaning up flour. (I don't.) Add 2 cups of flour, one at a time, and beat well.
You'll still want to keep your mixer modestly draped for the next step. Switch to dough hook and keep adding flour gradually until the dough hook starts pulling the dough 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 it's soft but handles without sticking to your fingers.
Great bread dough should feel satiny and elastic.
At this point I simply remove the dough hook and gather the dough into a ball. I spray the bowl generously with Pam or similar, return the dough to the bowl (not necessary to wash it first) smooth a little cooking oil or olive oil over the dough, cover with dish towel and set in a nice warm place. (In the summer, I've found my car makes a great proofing box!!) It will take about an hour for the dough to rise.
When the dough has doubled in size, divide into 12 pieces and roll out into a thin oval about 6" by 8". Heavens, this is no time for exactitude. Think rustic and handmade. I like my runzas a little on the small side with thin, crisp dough wrappers. You may like yours chubby.
(Sometimes I make runzas with half the dough and cinnamon rolls with the other half.)
For the Filling
Drain tuna well and squeeze out excess liquid. I do this in a strainer and use a rubber spatula to press out any extra liquid.
Peel and chop the hard cooked eggs in a bowl.
Add tuna, grated cheese, chopped onions, chopped olives, and pickle relish to chopped eggs in same bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and add a little extra mayonnaise if needed to moisten ingredients.
Make the runzas
Divide dough into 12 balls and roll each one out into an oval shape. Put filling on center of oval and pinch long edges together then pinch shut both ends. Place on greased cookie sheet seam side down and let rise for about 20-30 minutes, Bake in 375 degree oven about 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned. Brush tops with butter. Serve hot.
These keep well in the fridge for a few days. Or, wrap individually in foil and freeze. They really do reheat well so make a bunch when you do.
REHEAT: Reheat refrigerated runzas in 375 degree oven until warm through. Heat frozen wrapped runzas in 375 degree oven for 20-25 min. Remove foil last 5 min. I usually brush some butter on top again! But we like butter!!
When my mind runza way with me!
I was so pumped about how well these turned out and my husband liked them so much he ate two! So I went crazy and came up with several spins on our beloved Runza! In the upcoming days I’ll be sharing more variations!
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)