Tuscan White Beans And Tuna or Fagioli e Tonno in Italian is a classic dish that is usually served as a starter in Italy but it also makes a nice lunch. It is beyond simple to prepare and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen pantry. You can turn this into an Italian insalata by adding lots of fresh veggies to the serving platter or serve it with some sliced prosciutto, a chunk of cheese and crusty bread for a quick warm weather dinner.
When preparing for the Coronavirus lockdown, I made sure that I had plenty of canned goods including tuna and lots of different types of beans in my pantry. For this recipe, I used canned chunk tuna in olive oil and canned cannellini beans but if you have dried beans by all means cook up a large pot and use some for this recipe.
Tuscan White Beans and Tuna
Serves 4 – 6 as an appetizer, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
- 2 15.5 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 4.5 oz. cans solid tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil (drain tuna if not in oil)
- 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 small sweet red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings together. Add the beans, mashing a few gently with a spoon. Add the tuna and break up into bite size pieces. Add the garlic, onion and parsley and mix until everything is coated. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. The flavor improves the longer it sits so this can be prepared early in the day then refrigerated. It can be served chilled or at room temperature…I prefer it not too cold. Right before serving, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and add some freshly ground pepper. Slices of bread (crostini) drizzled with olive oil and then toasted are the perfect accompaniment.
- If the red onion you are using has a strong taste, you can soak the slices in ice water, then drain and pat dry.
- If you are planning to serve the beans and tuna as an appetizer spread on crostini as I often do, mix until well blended (think of it like an Italian hummus) as it will be easier to eat as finger food.
- If you would like to serve it as a salad, do not mash any of the beans and gently toss the ingredients until everything is just coated.
- For a summer salad, you can add sliced cherry tomatoes, celery, olives or veggies of your choice on top of arugula.
This dish doesn’t really require a true recipe because it is so easy to prepare. It is just simple ingredients, simply prepared as so many Italian dishes are. The secret to remember when preparing a dish like this is to use top quality ingredients. Tuscan white beans and tuna is one of those dishes that can be prepared at the last minute making it the perfect quick nibble to serve with a glass of wine when friends drop by unexpectedly.