Tuna and Bean Salad

Published: August 11, 2008

They lurk in every pantry: cans of beans bought long ago for a forgotten meal, now dusty and unloved on a back shelf.

(I personally prefer to cook fresh beans off a bag)

It’s a shame, really — canned beans are the closest thing we have to an instant health food, an excellent source of protein, low in fat (they contain no saturated fat or cholesterol) and exceptionally high in fiber. Beans also contain relatively high amounts of calcium, iron, folic acid and potassium. And they’re inexpensive, an increasingly rare virtue in today’s markets.

The next time you stock up, start with cans of chickpeas, white beans such as cannellini, and black beans. These versatile varieties can be used in a number of dishes, including the salad below. We’ll be showing you other ways to use beans this week, too, so get ready to clear those pantry shelves once and for all.

Tuna and Bean Salad

This easy, light meal salad offers both protein and omega-3 fatty acids. A more authentic version would call for tuna in olive oil, but I actually prefer water-packed tuna.

1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

1 (6 1/2-ounce) can water-packed tuna, drained

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans or borlotti beans, drained through a strainer and rinsed

3 fresh sage leaves, slivered

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small or medium garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt (or omit and use 4 tablespoons olive oil)

1/2 Japanese cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced, for garnish

1. Place the onion in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and cold water to cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then dry on paper towels.

2. In a medium bowl or salad bowl, combine the tuna, beans, onions, sage, and parsley.

3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the remaining vinegar, salt to taste, freshly ground pepper, garlic, and Dijon mustard. Whisk in the olive oil and the yogurt. Toss with the tuna and beans and serve, garnishing each plate with cucumber slices.

Yield: Serves two as a main dish, four as a starter

Advance preparation: This salad will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.



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