Tonno e Fagioli is an Italian classic, some say it originated in Tuscany. This is quite possibly true since the standard recipe uses cannellini beans, widely consumed throughout Tuscany. Did you know that Tuscans are referred to as the “Bean Eaters” or Mangiafagoli – a playful moniker for a proud people. Indeed, there are many wonderful bean dishes from Tuscany such as fagioli al fiasco, fagioli all’uccelletto, and let’s not forget those wonderful hearty soups like ribollita.
I have substituted a flat broad bean sometimes called Lupini beans for the traditional cannellini beans. Imported canned tuna, packed in olive oil is essential; the flavor just cannot be matched by albacore tuna packed in water. The imported Italian and imported Spanish brands are equally wonderful. Some of the European tunas are sold in a glass jar allowing one to see that the fish is packed in solid chunks, not bits and pieces. If the jarred variety is available at your local market, go ahead splurge – it is a bit expensive but worth it.
This is such an easy dish to put together, and perfect as an appetizer, luncheon salad or quick dinner. Generally served in the summer months, when the thought of cooking can often seem unbearable, Insalata di Tonno e Fagioli can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Naturally, the summer months bring garden tomatoes which add so much to the insalata, but use your imagination and include your favorite garden vegetables.
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- 2 - 5 ounce cans of imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil
- 2 - 14 ounce cans of white broad beans, sometimes referred to as Lupini beans
- ½ cup diced red pepper
- ⅓ cup diced red onion
- 1 cup diced celery, taken from the center of the stalk including the leaves
- 1 Tbs. capers, rinsed of salt or drained if brine
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a large lemon
- ¼ cup Italian parsley leaves, chipped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups of peppery wild arugula
- Open the canned beans, place in a colander, and rinse well with running cold water; allow to completely drain.
- Open the tuna and drain it of excess olive oil.
- Add the pepper, onion, celery and half of the chopped parsley to the drained beans and gently combine; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Arrange the arugula onto a serving platter. Spoon the bean mixture over the arugula. Using a fork, remove the tuna from the cans and place on top of the vegetable, try not to break up the tuna into small pieces. Scatter the remaining parsley and capers over the dish. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil followed by the fresh lemon juice.