Cannellini beans and tuna (or tonno e fagioli) are a classic Italian salad combination for those summer months when you need something substantial and full of flavour but can’t bear to cook anything hot. The beans themselves provide a mild background to the zesty tastes of lemon juice, red onion and Italian parsley and a really good Italian extra virgin olive oil raises the whole dish to the heights of simple but good country cooking.
It’s much the easiest to use tinned beans, in which case you can use a mixture of beans, including white cannellini and brown borlotti. If you are cooking large quantities for a party though, it would be much cheaper to cook your own beans from dry.
Recipe for Italian Tuna and Bean Salad
1 tin cannellini beans
1 tin borlotti beans
1 tin Italian tuna in olive oil
a generous bunch Italian parsley washed, dried and chopped
½ red onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Drain the beans in a colander and rinse well in cold water. Allow to drain well.
Drain the tuna and put it in a bowl with the chopped onion, parsley and capers if using.
Add the beans and gently combine the salad.
Dress with the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well and taste to see if you need more of anything.
The flavours will develop nicely if you have time to prepare the bean salad a little in advance.
Italian parsley is the ideal and authentic herb for this salad, but you could try using fresh coriander and a little chilli as a spicy fusion version.
Feel like trying some other authentic Italian dishes? Head out to eat at San Marco restaurant in Derby for some great Italian cuisine.