This classic Italian salad marries cooked white beans and oil-packed tuna for a protein-packed, pantry-friendly, light meal that’s perfect for warm weather. With a lot of people stocked up on dried beans these days, we’ve been working on a number of recipes to put a batch o’ beans to good use. With spring finally here, and summer just around the corner, we’re moving away from heartier stews, and leaning into bean dishes like this one, which requires little to no additional cooking, and can be served at room temperature.
The perfect protein-packed light meal for when you don’t want to do any cooking.
- Serves 4
- 25 minutes
- 1/2 red onion (about 4 ounces; 116g), cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) Champagne, white wine, or red wine vinegar plus extra for drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups (1 pound 6 ounces; 625g) cooked dry white beans, drained, or two (15-ounce; 425g) cans low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed (see note)
- 5.6 ounces (160g) olive oil-packed tuna (from two 3.88-ounce (110g) cans), preferably ventresca (tuna belly; see note), drained and gently flaked into 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium garlic clove (5g), minced or finely grated
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) bean cooking liquid, from a pot of beans cooked from dry (see note if using canned beans)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 1/4 cup (1/2 ounce; 16g) finely chopped fresh parsley leaves and tender stems
In a small bowl, combine red onion and enough ice water to cover. Using clean hands, gently scrunch and squeeze the onion slices, taking care not to crush or break them. Let onion slices sit in ice water for 15 minutes, then drain and discard ice water, and return red onion to now-empty bowl. Add vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon (1g) salt and toss and gently massage onions to evenly coat with vinegar and salt. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow onion slices to marinate.
Meanwhile, combine beans and tuna in a large bowl. Once onions have marinated for 5 minutes, squeeze onion slices to release moisture into the bowl that they marinated in, then transfer onion slices to large bowl with beans and tuna; set large bowl aside.
There should be at least 1 tablespoon (15ml) of vinegar-onion juice liquid left in the small bowl. Add garlic, bean cooking liquid (or, if using canned beans, 2 teaspoons (10ml) water plus 1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard), and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and whisk to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt.
Transfer dressing to large bowl with bean-tuna mixture, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the dressing into the large bowl. Using a large spoon, gently toss salad to evenly coat with dressing, taking care not to crush tuna or beans in the process. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad between individual serving plates or one large serving platter, drizzle lightly with olive oil and a splash of vinegar, and serve.