Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Lickety-split Lunch

I’m having one of my favorite lunches today: Bean and Tuna Salad. It’s quick and easy to make. The ingredients are always on my pantry shelf. And I really like the taste. What more can you ask of a dish? It also lends itself to some variations, and measurements don’t have to be precise.

When I first learned to make this dish years ago, the recipe called for cooking the beans from scratch. Well, scratch that. With canned beans, I can put it together in little more than ten minutes. On those days when I have a rumbling stomach at high noon and have made no plans for lunch, I make this lickety-split and can feel virtuous that I’m having a healthy lunch instead of a grilled cheese sandwich or other fatty foods.

The standard bean for this salad is cannellini, but you can choose another type if you wish. Italians tend to prefer dark tuna, so I make this dish made that kind, but you could use white tuna if you really like it instead. I use tuna packed in olive oil, but again, you can save some calories by choosing the type packed in water. 

The traditional recipe calls for red onion, which I favor, but you can use fresh spring onions, basic yellow or white as well. I think there’s enough salt on the canned beans, but you may add a bit if you think the salad needs some.

Pour something to drink and eat a piece of fruit. The perfect lunch.

Tuna Bean Salad
1 small red onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
1 6-ounce can tuna
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup cherry or other small tomatoes, quartered
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Optional: capers (about 2 tablespoons), balsamic vinegar, black olives, salad greens, chopped basil.

  1. Chop the onion first and put in a cup of cold water while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Drain the beans and rinse under cold running water. Drain and place in a bowl.
  3. Drain the liquid (either oil or water) from the tuna and add it to the bowl.
  4. Drain the onion and add to the salad.
  5. Add the tomatoes, parsley and black pepper. Pour over oil to taste and mix.
  6. And it’s ready.
Variations: Add some chopped black olives and/or capers. Mix basil with the tomatoes before adding them. Add a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar with the oil. Arrange salad greens on serving plates and spoon on the salad.

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