The Fancy Ingredient Ina Garten Swears By For Tuna Melts

When it comes to sandwiches, a tuna melt definitely ranks among some of the most delicious classics. Its origins seem shrouded in mystery, but food lore has it that the tuna melt — which is, of course, tuna salad piled between bread, topped with sliced cheese, and either griddled or broiled until the cheese is melty (via Serious Eats) — was invented by accident at a Woolworth's in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1960s, when a cook spilled a bowl of tuna salad onto a grilled cheese sandwich (via the New York Times).

Whatever its origins, the tuna melt now appears in many incarnations, ranging from a down-and-dirty diner version on white bread (via Serious Eats) to a fancy take served on a baguette with cornichons and good cheese (via Rachael Ray). And if you really love a good tuna melt and really want to get upscale with it, then "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten's posh preparation with an imported ingredient might be just the ticket.

Imported tuna packed in olive oil is Garten's go-to for tuna melts

If you've ever tucked into a buttery griddled tuna melt at a diner, then chances are the version consisted of low-grade canned tuna spread between slices of supermarket white bread. But that's just not Ina Garten's style — the Food Network host and home entertaining maven is more of a go big or go home type when it comes to indulgent snacks and meals. So it comes as no surprise that when Garten decides to griddle up some tuna melts, she doesn't go for your run-of-the-mill grocery store brand, reaching instead for high-quality, imported tuna that's packed into glass jars with olive oil.

In a Food Network video demonstrating her Ultimate Tuna Melts, Garten builds her tuna salad with a base of imported Spanish tuna packed in olive oil, which she flakes into a bowl. She says the switch adds a ton of flavor, commenting, "With all respect to American tuna, this is particularly good."

The rest of the ingredients in Garten's tuna salad are far from the standard, as well, incorporating fresh dill and anchovy paste, and Garten's cheese of choice leans European, too: Swiss cheese, preferably Emmentaler, which is buttery and full-flavored (via The Spruce Eats). Served open-faced after a quick trip under the broiler, Garten declares her tuna melts "the perfect retro food for a weeknight dinner."