Monday, July 11, 2011

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) White Bean Tuna Salad

I was able to make a nice harvest of home grown celery last week. My stalks had a lot of leaves though. It seemed like such a waste to toss those into the compost. I know the French are shocked that we silly Americans throw away the most flavorful part of the celery stalk! I cut all of the leaves off of the celery and dried most of it. I read that you can add it to recipes to impart a nice celery flavor if you're short on the actual vegetable. I'll post the drying celery leaves later. I saved some fresh leaves to cook with.

I saw this recipe on the Food Network site. I made some changes to my taste and included the celery leaves. I was amazing at how good this salad turned out. I love canned tuna and if it weren't for the mercury scare, I would have a tuna sandwich every week! The recipe calls for dark meat tuna packed in olive oil. I heard that the Italian or Mediterranean imported types have better taste than the American versions. However, I usually have tuna packed in water on hand in my pantry at all times. I used these. See the notes at the end of the recipe for tips on the canned tuna.

I love the combination of tuna and white beans. It gives this salad enough protein to make for a very filling meal. It was light and fresh and the great thing is that is was so flavorful you didn't need any extra dressing. It makes for a perfect al fresco meal!

White Bean Tuna Salad
Adapted from (courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)
Servings: 4

2 (6-8 oz.) cans tuna, packed in water **
1 (15 oz.) can cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 c. small capers, nonpareil in brine, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. chopped celery leaves
2 Tbsp grated red onion
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil (or the oil from the tuna)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 c. mixed greens (arugula, mustard greens, baby lettuce and spinach are my favorites)

1) In a large bowl, add the tuna and break into bite sized pieces with a fork.

2) Add the beans, capers and chopped celery leaves to the bowl and toss lightly. Be careful not to smash the beans.

3) In a smaller bowl, add the grated red onions, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Whisk dressing well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4) Pour the dressing on the tuna mixture and toss gently. Set aside and allow the flavors to infuse for about 15-30 minutes.

5) Place the lettuce on a large platter and top with the tuna mixture. Serve immediately. You can also keep the tuna mixture separately in a container in the refrigerator and serve individual servings. The tuna mixture keeps well and tastes very flavorful the following day!

**If you can find imported canned tuna packed in olive oil from the Mediterranean, this is preferred. If not, an alternative would be American canned tuna packed in olive oil. If using tuna packed in oil, when draining the oil, save this to use instead of plain olive oil. The oil from the packed tuna will give your dressing additional flavor!!