May 24th

It seems fitting that this post should be as succinct, straightforward and swift – three admirable qualities I’m not generally noted for – as this lunch. It could of course be supper.

Fat, tender white beans, cannellini or haricot, drained and mixed with the best tuna packed in oil you can afford (look for tuna belly which is called ventresca, good Italian grocery shops will sell it by weight from a large round tin), thin slices of spring or red onion, a flick of coarse salt and plentiful extra virgin olive oil.  Serve with bread – or toast if your bread is a little jaded – and the bottle of olive oil nearby in case you need another glug. Fork in one hand, bread in the other, I particulary like the scoop, squash and mop involved in this meal.  Needless to say, a glass of wine would be nice.

The artichokes I preserved under oil are ready, so I popped open the first jar and sliced three of the pale hearts into the deliciously oily heap the Italians call fagioli toscani col tonno.

Lunch. One of my favourites.

This is also a fine antipasti. I’d double the quantities for 4 – 6 people, afterall  leftovers, if there are any, are always welcome. Perfect alongside a dish of olives, a few red radishes and some good bread.

White beans with tuna and onion

Serves 2 (technically !)

  • 6oz/150g best quality tuna packed in oil, lightly drained.
  • 15oz/400g of white beans (cannellini or haricot) drained – you can of course soak and cook your own.
  • a small red onion or 2 or 3 spring onions finely sliced.
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt like Maldon
  • freshly ground black pepper.

Put the beans, onion and tuna in a bowl, then using a wooden spoon gently stir and break up the tuna into nice fat flakes. Sprinkle over a little salt, season with black pepper and pour over the olive oil liberally – quite how liberally is entirely up to you. Serve with bread.



Filed under antipasti, Beans and pulses, food, recipes, salads

23 responses to “May 24th

  1. Yum, yum, yum. Rachel, you never cease to inspire me!!!

  2. Seriously, this is one of my favorite summer suppers. I just bought two cans of Italian tuna last week!

  3. Yum! I’ve certainly made versions of this, but I’ve been missing the “Fork in one hand, bread in the other” and the “bottle of olive oil nearby in case you need another glug” Now I feel better informed.

  4. Dana

    I’ve made something similar to this before, and I LOVE it. Perfect for lunch!

  5. I adore the idea of preserved artichokes in the mix, here (even if they’re just along for the ride). I’ve tried and liked this combo in the past (great tuna in olive oil is a revelation, state-side), but artichokes might just trot the whole thing over to love territory.

  6. Thanks so much for reminding me of this simple but delicious meal. Great for a Saturday lunch, with some fresh sliced tomatoes on the side.

  7. Yum. I’m not a huge tuna person but I think this could convert me.

  8. lo

    I’m swooning just a little bit at the sheer thought of this. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve been craving a great nicoise salad for a couple of weeks now.

    Gotta check out that Italian grocer on the east side for some great cans of tuna. Thanks for the tips!

    • rachel

      Yes do, I now realise that the Italian deli I used to live near in london always had a large tin of tuna tucked in the corner of the cold counter, I just never noticed.

  9. We had this at a local Italian restaurant and it looked nothing like your masterpiece! I was so looking forward to it only to be served a meal best described as “mushy”. Your fresh ingredients and instant preparation are the key, I’m sure. Next time I’ll try your recipe rather than dining out! Hope all is well, Rachel! xoxo Marija

    • rachel

      I’ve had mushy versions of this (In italy too!!) it is tragic. yes, very fresh and eaten then and there is the way. xxx to you all.

  10. What a perfect lunch for this warm, almost like summer weather. Beautiful picnic food. (Memorial Day weekend coming up in the States) Great tip about the ventresca, tuna belly. I’ll look out for it…
    thanks, Rach!

    • rachel

      Nancy – yes thick, flaky slices of tuna belly are wonderful. They can get silly expensive, but I think you can find reasonably priced tins and jars stateside.
      Happy Memorial day to you.

  11. I feel superior at the table when I’m using bread as second utensil. Scooping and squishing, sopping and soaking. Occasionally it rests, but rarely. It encourages me to eat more than I should, for sure. I’m not complaining. I wanted to make this for lunch today, but ran out of time. Soon, I’m sure.

  12. Pingback: Recipes to Try | Live and Learn

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