This tasty Italian tuna bean salad, or insalata di tonno e fagioli as it’s known in Italy, features fresh tuna fish steaks and cannellini beans as the main ingredients. Italian fresh tuna salad makes a satisfying lunch, or you can enjoy the Mediterranean flavors by enjoying it as a side dish with a main course or a snack.
Simple ingredients combine to make this Tuscan classic. Juicy fresh tuna pairs with beans for a Tuscan tuna white bean salad everyone will enjoy. It makes a tasty meal, whatever the season.
Why You’ll Love Fresh Tuna White Bean Salad
Delicious: Canned tuna features in many salads, but this recipe calls for fresh tuna steaks for a superior flavour. The addition of cannellini beans makes it even more delicious!
Simple to make: All you need to do to prepare Italian tuna bean salad is cook the tuna and combine it with the other ingredients.
A true taste of Tuscany: Beans are widely used in Italy and are one of the country’s pantry staples. Seafood is also dear to Italian hearts, and this delicious rustic dish combines both and is a real Italian classic salad.
Tuna and Bean Salad Ingredients
So what ingredients do you need for the perfect insalata di tonno e fagioli?
Well, first of all, you need good quality tuna, and it’s worth skipping the imported Italian canned tuna packed in olive oil and buying fresh tuna steaks instead for the freshest taste. You can use canned tuna if you want, though.
Dried cannellini beans, shallot, and arugula also go into the salad. The tuna is brined in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, shallot, and salt. The other ingredients you need for this classic Italian salad are red wine vinegar, basil, and fresh parsley.
How to Make Fresh Tuna and Beans Salad
For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.
Marinate the beans: Let the white beans sit in a large bowl in water, oil, vinegar, rosemary, shallot, and salt for an hour.
Prepare the tuna: Season it, then cook and break it into flakes before adding more salt, pepper, and garlic.
Finish the salad: Mix the beans and tuna with the other ingredients and serve immediately or refrigerate until required.
Substitutions and Variations
There are different types of tuna to choose from, including albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, tuna belly, and even canned tuna if you’re in a rush to make this salad. I recommend using fresh tuna, though. Make sure you choose chunk light tuna.
Instead of the dried cannellini beans, you can use canned beans if you want, and anything from great northern white beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans to black beans would work; each type of canned beans will add its flavour and character to the dish. This Italian bean salad is versatile!
Swap the shallot for red onion, the vinegar for fresh lemon juice, or even the parsley for fresh basil.
You can even add more flavour with capers and olives. Change the peppery arugula for Belgian endive, radicchio di Treviso or baby spinach if you want. Cherry tomatoes could be added on top for a bit of colour.
What to Serve with this Salad
Enjoy this Italian white bean salad with crusty bread or just by itself as a snack. It makes a great side dish for any summer meal, picnic, or BBQ.
Store: As you probably expect, this salad is best served as soon as you’ve made it, although you can cook the tuna up to 2 days in advance.
Freeze: They aren’t suitable for freezing because they will get soggy.
Tuna Steaks Salad FAQs
The brining process is for both flavour and texture. It adds extra flavour to the beans and also keeps them firm.
The classic choice in Tuscany would be “russa lunga de tropea,” but those heirloom torpedo onions can be hard to find outside Italy. Shallots are the closest in terms of taste, or you could use red onion that you’ve soaked in water to tame the bold flavour a bit.
Italian Tuna and White Bean Salad Recipe
Italian Tuna White Bean Salad
- 2 Cans cannellini beans
- 1 Pound Tuna steak
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons parsley
- 2 Tablespoons basil cut into ribbons
- ½ Teaspoons pepper
- 2 Cloves garlic grated
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 2 Cups arugula
- 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Sprigs rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon shallot
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- Drain then rinse the beans then put them a large mixing bowl. Fill with water until the beans are covered. Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, rosemary, chopped shallot, and salt. Refrigerate for one hour.
- Next, prepare tuna. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and swirl to coat.
- Brush tuna with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes per side. Lower the heat and cover. Cook 10 minutes, or until internal temperature has reached 145 degrees F.
- Add tuna to a bowl and toss with a pinch of salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Use a fork and gently press the tuna to flake. Cover, then Refrigerate for 15 minutes to cool.
- Drain the beans and discard the liquid. Combine the beans with the tuna, arugula, shallot, and basil in a bowl.
- Brining the beans in cold water allows them to soak in the flavour and prevents them from getting mushy.
- To easily slice basil into ribbons, stack basil leaves, starting with the largest leaf on a cutting board. Tightly roll the basil into a log, then make thin slices with your knife.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Italian tuna bean salad is made with tuna steaks and cannellini beans. It’s one of the best Italian tuna steak recipes and is packed with protein. It’s too good to only enjoy during the summer months, and any time of year is great for enjoying fresh tuna salad recipes.
You Might Also Like
Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.
Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.