Why Ina Garten Uses Spanish Tuna In Her Signature Tuna Melt

Food Network star Ina Garten is known for her insistence on good quality ingredients prepared by hand. Just take her infamous catchphrase, "store-bought is fine" — meaning she understands when home cooks have to take shortcuts even though she'd ultimately prefer that people take the necessary time to cook well (via The Cut).

This doesn't mean Ina would never buy pre-prepared products: She's open about using store-bought vanilla on TV, and while some condiments are worth preparing from scratch, she's said you should never worry about making mayonnaise at home. And in the case of her signature tuna melt, one specialty grocery-store item is practically a requirement.

In a recent video, the "Barefoot Contessa" chef specifically called for Spanish tuna to make a sandwich "with the volume turned way up" (via YouTube). Why is this particular variety of fish such a game-changer — and what other secret ingredients does Garten recommend for the perfect tuna melt?

Good ingredients boost this take on a classic

Ina Garten's recipe for the Ultimate Tuna Melt is more than the canned fish and sliced deli cheese of many people's childhoods. First off, she calls for imported Spanish tuna packed in olive oil — preferably in a glass jar — which she said is "absolutely delicious" because it stays moist and in large chunks better than its tinned American counterpart (via YouTube).

Then, she adds classic ingredients like diced celery, scallions, and lemon juice. But to give it a "Barefoot Contessa" twist, she adds fresh dill and flavors her mayonnaise with anchovy paste to boost the depth of flavor. Finally, she places the tuna salad on toasted white bread and covers it with grated Swiss Emmental cheese, which she prefers for its nuttiness. And after broiling them long enough for the cheese to melt but not to heat the tuna, she tops each one with microgreens. "Tell me these aren't the best-looking tuna sandwiches you've ever seen!" she said in the cooking demo video. "This is perfect retro food for weeknight dinner, the ultimate comfort food." ¡Delicioso!