Ina Garten's Unexpected Ingredient For Her Ultimate Tuna Melts

They don't call Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa for nothin'! Garten is comfy royalty, making her name by transforming and elevating recipes that everyone can reproduce ... even if you may have to source some fancy ingredients. For her ultimate tuna melts, for example, Garten turns the childhood classic into luxe comfort food with a combination of fresh ingredients with complex, complementary flavors and careful technique paired with meticulous preparation.

The tuna melt is nothing more than an open-faced version of a tuna salad sandwich with some melted cheese, and it's not like it was even created on purpose; rather its origin story was that of a happy accident. The Barefoot Contessa's tuna melt recipe has several distinguishing features, and one of them is her choice of tuna: Spanish tuna that comes in a jar and is packed in olive oil. Choosing good tuna isn't enough for Garten, though. She also kicks up the flavor in her tuna melt with an unexpected twist.

Is there something extra fishy about Ina Garten's tuna melt?

Of course, Ina Garten's recipe includes plenty of fresh ingredients. She dices up celery hearts for a satisfying crunch. There's plenty of chopped scallion for flavor, along with fresh dill. Lemon juice provides a delightful zing of acidity. But the secret ingredient? It's blended with mayonnaise. The Barefoot Contessa adds a tiny bit of anchovy paste. Anchovy paste might prompt viewers to make a face, thinking the tuna melt will be overly ... well ... fishy. It's not, of course.

Anchovy paste adds a depth of flavor and complexity that pulls all the ingredients in Garten's tuna melt together. Settled onto toasted white bread and topped with a lightly browned, lovely layer of melted Emmentaler cheese, this tuna melt is real-deal comfort food. It's satisfying, filling, and full of flavors and textures that are super satisfying. Adding a tiny bit of anchovy paste can kick up any tuna melt recipe.