Tuna and Bean Salad

Insalata di Tonno e Fagioli

Fresh or canned cranberry beans (borlotti in Italian) are the ideal bean to use here. Look for a premium canned tuna packed in olive oil, ideally ventresca (pages 14–15), not the flavorless tuna packed in water. This salad is substantial enough to be a light lunch.

Preparation time: 20 minutes if using fresh beans, 10 minutes if using canned
Total time from start to finish: 45 minutes if using fresh beans, 20 minutes if using canned


  • 3 pounds fresh cranberry beans in the pod or 2 cups drained canned cranberry or cannellini beans
  • Salt
  • ½ small red onion
  • 7 ounces canned tuna packed in olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


  1. If using fresh beans, fill a pot with at least 4 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Shell the beans. Add 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water and put in the beans. Cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer to a serving bowl. Set aside to cool. If using canned beans, place them in a serving bowl.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the red onion crosswise, put it in a separate bowl, and cover with cold water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Lift the tuna out of the can, break up the chunks into large flakes with a fork, and add to the beans. Drain the red onion and add it to the serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and vinegar and toss thoroughly but gently so as not to mash the beans. Serve at room temperature.


You can assemble the salad up to 1 day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator. Wait to add the onion and to season it until just before serving.