Category Archives: Pescatarian

Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches: Part 2 – Marvelous Melts

“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad” – A. K. Best

In Part One of Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches, I wrote about some of my favorite “cool classics” where the tuna is served cold on some sort of tasty bread. The focus of Part Two is on tuna melts, where the tuna is topped with some sort of cheese (one of the world’s wonder foods as far as I’m concerned) and heated. As I mentioned in Part One, I am picky about my tuna salad and compare everything to my grandfather’s concoction (click here for his recipe.) All of these melts start with a great base of tuna salad that I would happily eat cold.

So cast your rods and catch some of these marvelous tuna melts:

Seaboard Café  707 Semart Dr., Raleigh, N.C.  27604

The Seaboard Café is a great lunch destination located in Logan Trading Company, right off of Peace Street near Peace College. Opened Monday-Saturday from 11:00-2:30, it does a great business and the line is often quite long, but moves at a steady pace. I order the Grilled Tuna Salad, Swiss & Cranberries Sandwich for $7.50, and really didn’t know what to expect with the cranberries. OMG – this is one of my favorite tuna melts ever! It comes on grilled sourdough bread and is a perfect mix of sweet and savory. It is served with raspberry-Dijon pasta salad which is tasty and a pickled carrot (they sell these delicious little things by the pound). I don’t go as often as I’d like to mainly because I always wind up buying too much stuff at Logan’s and across the street at Seaboard Wine.

North Ridge Pub - 6196 Falls of Neuse Rd., Raleigh, NC 27609

This place wasn’t on my original list for trying tuna melts, but it should have been as it has one of the best I’ve ever had. The tuna is mixed with light mayo, celery, onion and special seasonings. It has Swiss cheese and tomato on toasted white bread. The bread is quite good, and the sandwich is huge. It comes with a choice of fries, Caesar salad, house salad or coleslaw for $7.50. My server didn’t ask what I wanted and assumed I wanted fries, which was okay because they were good. I enjoyed this wonderful sandwich with a great mimosa (generous pour in a chilled glass.) Small and cozy, the North Ridge Pub is run by the same people who own Café Tiramisu, which is right next door and one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Raleigh (hoping to review it soon!)

Café Harmony - 5645 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, N.C. 27612


I tried the albacore tuna melt, which consists of tuna salad on an open-faced English muffin with tomato, Swiss cheese and sprouts, heated. The tuna salad was very good with onion, celery, mayo and parsley. $8.99, with your choice of veggie chips or blue chips. This place recently opened and is run by the folks who own Harmony Farms, which is located a few doors down. It is Raleigh’s first totally organic and natural café, according to its website. Café Harmony is located in the strip mall on the corner of Millbrook and Creedmoor Roads. I have also tried the smoky black bean burger there, which is awesome and will be featured in an upcoming blog. I hope this place makes it, and judging by the lunch crowds, it should.

Sunflowers Café - 8 West Peace Street, Raleigh, N.C.  27603

I knew I had to try the tuna salad at Sunflowers, one of my favorite sandwich shops anywhere! And I was not disappointed. The tuna salad had pickle relish, eggs, mayonnaise and onions in it, and even though I normally steer clear of the relish and eggs in my tuna, this salad was quite good and creamy. It came grilled on rye bread with avocado, cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and house mustard. This was a great combination of flavors – I especially liked the cheddar and avocado. The tuna melt comes with a side of chips for $6.50.

Serendipity Gourmet Deli – 118 South Academy Street, Cary, N.C.  27511

This tuna salad is for the purist – it’s basically white albacore mixed with mayonnaise. It was very creamy, but did need some salt and pepper. It was served on a croissant with melted Swiss and tomato. I thought they toasted it a tad bit too much, but it was still good. It came with chips and a pickle for $7.50. Service was good and friendly. Serendipity is a quaint little place in downtown Cary. I remember going there in the mid-80s, and the food is still good.

So ends Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches, parts 1 & 2. Be sure to check out my grandfather’s recipe if you just don’t feel like going out. And please send me your favorites if they aren’t on my list!

Bon appétit!

Pampa’s Tuna Salad Recipe

As I mentioned in my post: Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches, my grandfather, Kelton Virnelson, used to make the best tuna salad. He only used BumbleBee white albacore tuna, and would add diced celery and onion, white pepper (it was more aesthetically pleasing to the eye), fresh lemon juice and homemade (yes, homemade) mayonnaise. I’ve tried my best to replicate his recipe but use lowfat, store-bought mayo (usually Duke’s Light) instead of his homemade version.

Pampa’s Tuna Salad Recipe


  • 1 12-oz. can of albacore tuna, well-drained
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup onion, diced (I like sweet onions, such as Vidalias)
  • ¼ fresh large lemon
  • ¼ cup light mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground white pepper and seasoned salt to taste


Flake the tuna with a fork; squeeze the juice of a quarter of a large lemon on it (watch out for any errant seeds!) Add the rest of the ingredients; mix well. If I’m serving this on bread, sandwich roll or on a bed of lettuce, I let the tuna salad chill in the refrigerator for a little while. If I‘m making a tuna melt (recipe below), then I like for the salad to be room temperature as it heats faster.

Tuna melt recipe


  • Pampa’s tuna salad (see recipe above)
  • Bread (I like to use split English muffins or La Brea’s Three Cheese Semolina bread available from Harris Teeter. But any type of bread will work.)
  • Cheddar cheese slices (I like Cracker Barrel’s 2% sharp cheddar)
  • Tomato slices (optional)


Lightly toast the bread so the tuna won’t make it soggy. Spread some of the tuna on each slice. Top each with a slice of tomato (you can also add onion and/or avocado slices.) Top with cheese. Broil in the oven or toaster oven until the cheese melts.

Bon appétit!

Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches: Part 1 – Cool Classics


You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish” – REO Speedwagon

I’m extremely picky about my tuna fish salad, and can credit Pampa, my beloved grandfather, for that. He used to make the best tuna salad and only used Bumblebee brand white albacore. Pampa added diced celery and onion, white pepper, fresh lemon juice and homemade (yes, homemade) mayonnaise. I’ve tried my best to replicate his recipe but use low-fat, store-bought mayo (usually Duke’s Light) instead of his homemade version. Click here for his recipe.

Most restaurants that are open for lunch offer some sort of tuna fish salad, whether it is served as a sandwich, a tuna melt or just plain on a bed of lettuce. I’m normally not a big fan of relish or boiled eggs in tuna salad, probably as a result of being spoiled by my grandfather’s wonderful concoction. However, even though I am picky, luckily I have found 10 tuna salad sandwiches/melts that I will gladly order because they are so tasty – some actually have eggs and/or relish in the mix.

I’m splitting this  post into two parts: Part 1 is about some tasty cool classics – tuna salad served cold on some sort of tasty bread. Part 2 reviews tuna melts – warm tuna salad with some sort of melted cheese on top.

Here is where I get some of my favorite cool classics:

Panera Bread – Various locations nationwide, check its website for one close to you.

This is one tuna salad sandwich that I keep coming back for, and luckily there are enough Panera Bread locations around that I don’t have to go far. This tuna salad has reduced fat mayo, sweet relish and seasonings. It comes on a wide choice of homemade breads (I love the asiago cheese focaccia) with leaf lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, salt and pepper. Nicely priced at $5.19, which includes a side item (choice of chips or fruit) and a pickle.

Café Carolina and Bakery (various locations in North Carolina)

I usually visit Café Carolina’s location in Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping center, and have tried numerous items on the menu, all of which are good. This tuna salad has celery, onion, mayo, bits of red pepper and seasonings. It has a good consistency, and tastes good. It comes on nine grain bread with lettuce and tomato, but they will gladly let you choose a different bread (I love their buttery croissant – flaky and soft!) It comes with a choice of Lays potato chips or pretzels. Come early or late or be prepared to wait – there is always a line at lunch!

Poppyseed Market - 8801 Leadmine Rd., Raleigh, N.C.  27615 


The tuna salad sandwich at Poppyseed comes on white toasted bread and is huge! The tuna is mixed with celery, onions and mayo and comes with lettuce and a slice of tomato. Lots of tuna, and very tasty. It is served with homemade potato chips which are yummy and a pickle, for $7.99. The Poppyseed Market is located in the Harvest Plaza shopping center, in the same strip as Nina’s, one of my favorite Italian restaurants. In addition to serving food, Poppyseed sells deli items as well as wine, assorted cheeses and gifts. It also caters special events.

Over the Falls Deli238 South White St., Wake Forest, N.C.  27587


I ordered the Horseshoe sandwich ($7.49), which was on a flaky croissant and came with lettuce and tomato. The tuna salad was very good and creamy – it had bits of celery, red onion and black olives in it. The sandwich was served with homemade potato chips that are quite addictive and a dill pickle slice. The service was attentive and friendly, and it has outside seating. I love this little place, and if I go there when I’m a carnivore I like to get a sandwich called the Brink, which is a Reuben that rocks! If you’re familiar with Wake Forest, this place is right next to the Cotton Company, a unique assortment of vendors and shops.

Village Deli and Grill (500 Daniels Street Raleigh, NC 27605) 


I ordered the homemade tuna salad sandwich ($5.50), which is fairly basic and appears just to contain mayo and pepper. It is more like a spread in its consistency, and needed salt and more pepper. It comes with lettuce, tomato and mayo on a choice of white, wheat, rye, Kaiser roll or wrap. For .25 cents more you can have it on a croissant or ciabatta. I ordered the ciabatta and it was good. Sides are extra. The Village Deli has locations in Raleigh, Morrisville and Wake Forest. I go to the one in Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping center, which is usually packed at lunchtime.

This ends Part 1 of “Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches.” Be on the lookout for Part 2, Marvelous Melts, which will be posted in the next few days. And if you have a favorite that I haven’t mentioned here, please leave a comment – I’m always on the lookout for great tuna salad!

Restaurant Review: McCormick & Schmick’s (Raleigh location)

Usually when Brad and I have a free night away from the kids we like to try out an area restaurant that is new to us. However, last Saturday instead of choosing a new place, we went to McCormick & Schmick’s because we had a $50.00 gift certificate that was about to expire. Don’t get me wrong, though – we have both been there numerous times for business lunches and dinners as well as a restaurant of choice. The atmosphere is great, the bar area is large if you have to wait for a table, it has outside seating, plus it is located less than two miles from our home, which makes it very convenient.

Continue reading

Sockeye Salmon Two Ways

The great thing about wild Alaska sockeye salmon is not only is it delicious, but it is also full of natural minerals and vitamins that are good for you. High in protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, it contains no detectable mercury. Salmon are different from most fish, which either live in fresh or salt water. This is not the case for salmon. During the course of their life they will live in both salt and fresh water. Make sure you always buy the wild salmon – don’t even get me started about the farm raised stuff.

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said. “I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Well Mr. President, I don’t know what kind of salmon you’re talking about, but here are two recipes just might cure the munchies – cedar plank grilled sockeye and sockeye salmon cakes. When the sockeye is on sale, I buy extra to grill to make the cakes a few days later.

Cedar Plank Grilled Sockeye Salmon (Serves 2)

Grilled salmon on cedar is sinfully good! Cedar planks can be found at any hardware store where they sell the grilling stuff. You must soak the plank in water before grilling, usually for at least an hour; preferably more if you have time – just follow the directions on the package. You need to weight the plank with a heavy can or a brick so it stays totally immersed. This is so easy to prepare – 2 ingredients not counting the cedar planks!



Marinate the salmon in enough Drew’s dressing to coat the fish completely for an hour or so. Place the cedar plank on the grill until it is hot, then put the fish on the plank. Grill about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the salmon, until you can flake it with a fork.

Serve with a starch (baked potato as shown, roasted red potatoes or risotto are also great choices) and a vegetable such as steamed green beans, broccoli or asparagus.

Wine pairing: Pinot Noir or a nice white Burgundy

Sockeye salmon cakes

These things rock – the smokiness of the cedar plank salmon and the coolness of the dill sauce go great together!


  • 1 ½ cups of cooked cedar plank grilled salmon, flaked
  • 2 thick onion slices, diced small
  • 1 celery stalk, diced small
  • ½ fresh red pepper, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 ½ slices of fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 extra large egg, beaten
  • Tabasco/hot sauce to taste (I usually use several shakes)
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon slices to garnish


Mix together all of the ingredients except the olive oil and lemons (I usually do this with my hands.) Divide into 4 large patties, or 8 small ones. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors meld and to firm up the cakes.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Sautee the cakes until golden brown on both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Serve with low-fat dill sauce (see recipe below), smoked mozzarella pasta salad from Whole Foods and a tossed salad with your choice of dressing (I like Good Seasons Italian with this.)

Wine pairing: Pinot Noir or a nice white Burgundy

Low-fat Dill Sauce


  • ¼ cup low-fat mayo (I use Duke’s)
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (use both the green and white parts)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, finely chopped (use 1 teaspoon of dry dill if you don’t have fresh)
  • Few dashes of Tabasco/hot sauce, to taste
  • Seasoned salt and ground pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients, and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors blend. Bring to room temperature before drizzling over the salmon patties.

Bon appétit!