Tuscan White Beans And Tuna / Fagioli e Tonno

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.

White Beans And Tuna, A Classic Italian Starter

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.


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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

35 thoughts on “Tuscan White Beans And Tuna / Fagioli e Tonno

  1. Ever since the meat plants started having breakouts, I’ve been eating a lot more canned and frozen fish and seafood. Now I just need to get the canneloni beans! The grocery order goes in Wednesday! Thanks for this one.

  2. Love this dish and what a smart and delicious use of pantry staples! x

    On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 11:30 AM Back Road Journal wrote:

    > Karen posted: “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 c” >

  3. How delicious! It reminds me of a similar recipe that I made for a lunchtime salad at the weekend (white beans, tuna and radish), using this recipe. I used haricot beans instead of cannellini, as that’s what I had in the store cupboard. That link also has a wonderful Indian new potato salad recipe, which I’ve made twice recently.

  4. That does sound delicious – I’ve got the ingredients and it’s going to be a very nice sunny evening here. I might be eating that on my balcony in a couple of hours time!

  5. Karen, This dish was a staple for us when we lived aboard our boat. It’s still one of our favorite lunches.

    Judy Peschio


  6. I love this dish! And now that warm whether is here, it’s one we’ll make several times a month. Your version looks terrific — thanks.

  7. This is a fantastic little staple nibble to enjoy with a glass of wine on the deck this summer and spring. Great tip on soaking the onions first as they can be strong. Stay well and take care

  8. Have loved this classic dish ‘forever’ and happily eat it for a light dinner. Like David oft add arugula or similar greenery also and am pretty liberal both with the onion and the parsley. . Next time this comes up on the menu will add a tad of nutmeg I have not used . . .

  9. yum i love white beans and i love tuna. i always have tinned fish and beans in my pantry; that way i know i can whip up a meal any time. this sounds great.

  10. This is a super recipe, Karen, and like you I have all the ingredients. My first plan would be to have it for an appetizer. Plan B is for lunch. I don’t eat beans myself (and it makes me grouchy) as I’m doing a low carb diet. If I reduce the beans am I going to throw off all the other ingredient quantities ?

    Thanks so much!


  11. Fagioli e Tonno lands on our summer lunch table often, but we’ve never mushed it up. I like that idea. I can see some crisp pita chips plowing into your version. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. The spanish have an equally as lovely Tuna with avocado, but I’m definitely trying the white bean version. I usually cook my dry beans in bulk and freeze them for easy use because I don’t like the amount of salt canned beans generally have.
    Thank you for your comments on my blog, I always love hearing from you.

  13. Fagioli e tonno – two of our favorite things! Love this recipe! I will be making it this weekend! Have a safe Memorial weekend!
    Xo Anna and Liz

  14. I just finished making this fabulous dish. A first for me. Tastes very good. I especially like the fibre protein of the beans. The high protein tuna compliments the beans so well. This will be a standard appetizer/ snack in the future. 😍

  15. What a perfect idea for lunch! I made a pot of white beans just the other day and some leftover. Tomorrow’s lunch! Thanks Karen and hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend.

  16. Karen, have never made but sounds terrific! I prefer the dry pack tuna so would I have to add more olive oil to the recipe? I have all the other ingredients. Thx😊

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