Tuna, Tomato & White Bean Salad

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Tuna, Tomato & White Bean Salad-Pantry staples meet sweet tomatoes and a handful of fresh herbs in this protein-rich, flavor-packed salad. Enjoy it as an easy lunch or pair with an ear of corn, piece of cornbread or a crusty roll for a light but filling dinner. (Leftovers taste great, too!)

A handful of pantry staples meets sweet tomatoes and fresh herbs in this protein-rich, flavor-packed salad. Enjoy it as an easy lunch or pair with an ear of corn, piece of cornbread or a crusty roll for a light but filling dinner. (Leftovers taste great, too!)

 

 

Too hot to cook or simply don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen? This satisfying salad has come to my rescue many times over the years when I’ve felt just that way.

The following recipe came to be about six summers ago. Our central air went kaput during a heat wave. (Our second floor thermostat read a steamy 98℉!)

After spending about 15 minutes with the unit in our attic, the repairman came downstairs, literally soaked with sweat, and told me it was too hot for him to do the work.

It was not the answer I wanted to hear, but I understood. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that brutally hot, cramped space either!

There was no way I was going to turn on the oven or stove-and nobody wanted to eat anything hot anyway.

I took stock of what I had on hand, and this salad was born.

In the years since, we’ve enjoyed the following recipe precisely as written many times. I’ve also made quite a few variations based on what I’ve had on hand at any given time-and that flexibility is one of the reasons I love it.

I’ve mentioned some of those modifications in the recipe notes section.

Tuna, Tomato & White Bean Salad-Pantry staples meet sweet tomatoes and a handful of fresh herbs in this protein-rich, flavor-packed salad. Enjoy it as an easy lunch or pair with an ear of corn, piece of cornbread or a crusty roll for a light but filling dinner. (Leftovers taste great, too!)

As noted, most of the ingredients can be conveniently pulled from your pantry, while the short list of seasonal additions is easy to have on hand and provides welcome freshness and flavor.

And as for that age-old rule about not refrigerating tomatoes? It can be disregarded here, as this salad tastes absolutely great leftover. In some ways, I think it’s better. Just start with good cherry or grape tomatoes. They’re less watery and more consistently sweet than large tomatoes. In a pinch, use good plum or Roma tomatoes.

The summer I first made this salad, my younger son totally surprised me when he declared that this was one of his favorite salads. He was a rather picky pre-teen back then, and not exactly fond of beans…or tuna!

Perhaps it was the vibrant red tomatoes from our garden or the simple vinaigrette that did the trick, but I took that proclamation as an excuse to make this easy, economical and nourishing salad quite often.

If you make it, I hope you enjoy the same positive feedback along with the minimal effort!

Tuna, Tomato & White Bean Salad-Pantry staples meet sweet tomatoes and a handful of fresh herbs in this protein-rich, flavor-packed salad. Enjoy it as an easy lunch or pair with an ear of corn, piece of cornbread or a crusty roll for a light but filling dinner. (Leftovers taste great, too!)

Tuna, Tomato & White Bean Salad
Yield: 4-5 servings
Pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients make this flavor-packed, protein-rich salad a breeze. Enjoy it as an easy lunch or pair with an ear of corn, piece of cornbread or a crusty roll for a light but filling dinner. (Leftovers taste great, too!)
For the vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup (56ml) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) Dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon (7ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice + the zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and several turns of the pepper mill
For the salad:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans tuna, drained (in olive oil or water as preferred)
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup mix of fresh herbs (like basil, chives, parsley, thyme and oregano*)
Instructions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon, lemon juice, salt and pepper until emulsified. The dressing should have some zing, as this is needed to flavor the salad well.
  2. Place the beans in a large bowl. Add the 2 cans of drained tuna. I flake with a fork as I add to the bowl, keeping some good-size chunks.
  3. Add the tomatoes and herbs, and toss to incorporate.
  4. Pour enough vinaigrette over the salad to evenly coat. I usually add most but not all. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the salad for an hour or two. In this case, you may want to add an extra drizzle of the dressing just before serving, as beans are absorbent. Any extra dressing is also helpful if you choose to add optional extras (see notes section) like greens, artichokes, etc.
  5. Serve at room temperature or chilled with a crusty piece of bread, corn on the cob, zucchini noodles, or all by itself. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator where they will keep for approximately 4 days.
Notes:

*Limit the total amount of stronger tasting herbs like oregano and thyme to 2 tablespoons and feel free to use lighter-tasting herbs like basil, chives and parsley more liberally.

Feel free to customize this salad with the following complementary modifications:
Several handfuls of roughly chopped, fresh spinach, arugula or pea shoots.
A half cup, more or less, of crumbled feta
A half cup or so of pitted and sliced or halved Kalamata olives
A spoonful or two of capers
A cup, give or take, of canned artichoke hearts, well drained and quartered
Garbanzo beans instead of cannellini beans
Canned wild salmon (or leftover cooked tuna or salmon instead of canned)
Add some chopped avocado just before serving
Sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) before serving

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

 

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Comments

  1. E.S. Post author

    Ann, I made this for yesterday’s dinner and absolutely LOVED it. Perfect for this yucky hot weather. That dressing is incredibly flavorful. Packs a punch! I added artichoke hearts (packed in olive oil), feta, black olives and avocado. Yum!

    Reply
  2. LAURA

    I made this salad for dinner tonight and loved tasting all the flavors of the fresh herbs, and the dressing definitely had a zing to it that made everything taste so good! In order to avoid the sulfites in red wine vinegar, I substituted with some apple cider vinegar, and thought that tasted fine. I used black olives and a variety of baby lettuces. I think adding some arugula next time would add a nice bite to the lettuce flavors. May also try the suggested capers and avocado. My own idea is to add some hard boiled egg to the leftovers tomorrow for something different. I saved some of the dressing which I can add at that time. Thank you for including your list of complementary modifications. It appears that so many choices and combinations will work with this salad!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Wonderful comment, Laura. Thank you for all the details (and the compliments!). Apple cider vinegar sounds like a great vinegar substitute, and hard-boiled eggs would be a delightful addition. You’re making me hungry for more!

      Reply
  3. LAURA

    Made this salad again! Followed your original recipe, but substituted a large can of salmon for the tuna, chick peas for the white beans, and added sliced scallions and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Served over lettuce and cucumbers with side of corn on the cob. Highly recommend the salmon version!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Laura, I love that you tried the salmon version with a few extra tweaks! I’ve been using canned salmon more lately as it’s such an easy, economical way to enjoy wild salmon. Thanks so much for your terrific feedback!

      Reply