Tuna melt parcels

Time saver: Phil riffs on an old favourite with pastry. Cat is impressed.

Tuna melt parcels - with egg washSo last night I was making Spicy Pumpkin Soup and got hungry. You’d think that was the point of the soup, but for whatever reason I decided to make these as the soup simmered away.

Tuna melts are simple and tasty. Bread, tuna, cheese, a bit of pepper and a sandwich press are all it takes for a winning combination. But what if you don’t have bread? (Regular readers might wonder why I didn’t just whip up some artisan bread, but remember I’m using the stockpot I make the bread in to make soup, pay attention people.) Branching out I had no choice but to reap the health benefits of flaky puff pastry. Long term studies have repeatedly shown that flaky puff pastry is delicious and I guess the less said about the rest of it the better.

For the parcels I wanted to do a bit more than just tuna and cheese, so I whipped up a cheese sauce, threw in some blue cheese and then added the tuna to that. If blue cheese doesn’t appeal, stick with cheddar. If you want to make it a bit healthier, add some brocolli or spinach to the sauce.

One final point – tuna fish stocks are currently in danger of being depleted. With some species more badly affected than others. The situation will obviously change with time, but I think Pacific-caught Skipjack Tuna is currently OK. (While there’s a part of me that wants to say “It’s running out, make the most of it while you can”, I don’t think that’s really a position I can endorse. It would be a tragedy to overfish to a point where tuna can’t recover, and being aware of what you’re eating is what home cooking is all about.)

Tuna melt parcels – makes 4

  • 185g tin tuna chunks in spring water, drained
  • 2 square sheets flaky puff pastry
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • ½ c milk
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 80-100g (about 1 c) grated cheddar, or 40-50g (½ c) cheddar and 40-50g blue cheese
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water for an egg-wash on the pastry, or just use milk
  1. Pre-heat oven to about 200ºC.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
  3. Add flour to make a white roux. Stir well to combine and keep from catching on the bottom. Cook for around 1-2 minutes.
  4. Gradually add the milk and stir well with each addition to avoid lumps. Stir with a wooden spoon or whisk.
  5. After adding all the milk you should have a reasonably thick white sauce. Season with black pepper, then add the cheese, stirring thoroughly until it’s all melted.
  6. Add the tuna chunks (and any vegetables – strictly optional) to the sauce, and stir to combine.
  7. Cut each of the pastry sheets in half (giving you four long rectangles of pastry). Decide which end will hold the filling, then stab through several times with a fork. (This is to stop big pockets of air forming, causing the pastry to rise and push out the filling.) Don’t be afraid to get mean with it, but avoid putting any holes within about 1 cm from the edges.
  8. Put 4 Tbsp of the tuna filling in the centre of each of your fork-stabbed bases. Use a little water to wet the edges, the fold the (unstabbed) top half over and press down. Seal by pressing down on the sides with a fork. Make a couple of holes in the top of each parcel with a fork.
  9. Transfer the four parcels to a baking tray (lined with baking paper if you want to make it easier to get them off/clean up). If using an egg-wash, lightly beat an egg with 1 Tbsp of water then brush on to any visible pastry. (You won’t use even close to all of the egg wash. Maybe feed it to the cat, or make a miniature omelette.) If using milk brush that on instead.
  10. Bake in oven for around 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden-brown.

Cooking tuna melt parcels - montage