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open-face hummus tuna melt

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Hummus Tuna Melt

I only had one true spring break experience in college. It was my Freshman year, and my roommate and I bummed a ride to Ft. Lauderdale with a guy she knew from one of her classes. He was going with 10 or so of his closest friends from high school and they had seats in a car and an open fold-out couch. Even though they barely knew us, adding two more people meant two more people to split gas money and the cost of the lodging. It was something that was definitely out of my comfort zone. I knew no one (other than my roommate) and had certainly never been to spring break before. At that point, I was still incredibly self-conscious and hadn’t quite come out of my shell. I was terrified. On top of that, I only had about $200 to my name and had to spread it out over the whole week. But after some convincing, I found myself in the backseat of someone’s grandmother’s pale blue Ford Taurus with three complete strangers.

Our plan was to leave Indiana in the afternoon and drive all night. We made our first stop at a Steak ‘n’ Shake somewhere in Tennessee for dinner. All of us piled in and inundated some poor high school server with our orders. I remember being so terrified of blowing through my limited cash supply that I ordered the cheapest thing I could find on the menu. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember that I was elated because I only spent $6. But then our orders came and someone near me had ordered the ever-pricey tuna melt. It looked so delicious and my cheap-o dinner paled in comparison. It turned into a spiral of self-hate (18-year-old me was easily triggered into a hate spiral). Why don’t I have more money? Why am I not rich like these other kinds? Why am I not better at managing my money? Why am I getting so upset over a stupid tuna melt? Why am I with these strangers? What if they hate me? Why am I so annoying?

Blah-te-blah. So on and so on. Tuna melts have a strange effect on me, apparently.

I ended up sulking through the rest of dinner and all the way into Georgia (note: I was then, and still am, a bit of drama queen). I eventually came out of my pit of self-hate, and the rest of the trip went fine. I strapped on a bathing suit and had some fun. I didn’t meet any life-long friends, but we all got along well enough and I got to be on the beach in March, which is the whole point. And my money lasted the whole time. I was so stuck in this place of self-doubt and anxiety that it could have ruined this rite-of-passage-kind-of trip. Even now, it’s sad that the dinner in that Steak ‘n’ Shake in Tennessee is the memory that is the absolute clearest to me from that trip.  Out of a week on the beach with other young people, nothing else stands out above my self-doubt (and no, it wasn’t because everything is fuzzy and we were drinking, all of us were sober the entire trip actually).

Anytime I make a tuna melt, it reminds me of how far I’ve come. I’m not the girl who lets little things spiral me into a self-hate. And I’m certainly not the girl that let’s self-doubt ruin great experiences (or at least I try not to). I now see the humor in the fact that I let a greasy, 900 calorie sandwich (!) trigger me. I’m so different from the me of 10 years ago.

Wow, deep story for a post about a freakin’ tuna melt, eh?

Enough of that. Sandwich time! Babyface had a moment of genius last week when he decided to use hummus in place of mayo in a tuna salad. I took this idea and ran with it! I created a flavorful, crunchy, tuna salad that works perfectly on top of rye bread with a few slices of tomato and melted Swiss. No worries about packing in 900 calories with this one. It clocks in at a very reasonable 300 calories. I can’t wait to make this using fresh tomatoes and red peppers from my garden!


open-face hummus tuna melt

  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


I created a flavorful, crunchy, tuna salad that works perfectly on top of rye bread with a few slices of tomato and melted Swiss.



  • 25 ounce cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sweet relish
  • Dash of curry powder
  • 4 slices rye bread
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese


  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine tuna, red bell pepper, red onion, hummus, dijon, relish and curry and mix.
  3. Spoon 1/4 of the tuna salad on to each of the rye bread slices. Top each with two slices of tomato and one slice of cheese. Heat under broiler for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted, brown and bubbly.

  • Category: Sandwiches

Keywords: lunches, sandwiches, tuna, hummus

Did you ever do the spring break thing? Where you go?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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9 Responses
  1. Moober

    Never did the stereotypical “spring break” thing. My roommate and I did a road trip one year, but it was to St. Louis.

    On another note, my husband and I met at a Steak n Shake in 1999 when we were working over the summer between college semesters. 🙂 Our manager is still there (retiring next year, I believe) and we still go in and say hi and thank him for scheduling us on the same days.

  2. Athena

    Yum! I’m totally making this.

    I’m from TN and went to college there. If I remember correctly, my first spring break started out in NC, then we went down to Myrtle Beach, SC before heading back to TN. I now live about an hour from Myrtle Beach. Funny how those things work out.

  3. Always good to remind yourself about positive changes we’ve made:)

    I love a good tuna melt and have hummus pretty much every day, but somehow I’ve never thought of combining thw two. Until now, so thanks for this idea!

  4. Allinson

    I always have a hard time figuring out what to do with tuna, this is so perfect! I never thought of pairing it with hummus. Definitely making this pretty soon.

  5. Never would have thought to substitute hummus for mayo in my tuna salad. I am intrigued!

    And, yes, quite a deep story for a post about a tuna melt. 🙂 I’m glad you were able to make it to Florida and that self-hate and-self doubt are two things in your rear view mirror. Thank you for sharing your story.

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