Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tuna Salad - Hold the Mayo

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tuna Salad - Hold the Mayo

Article excerpt

Cooks in Tuscany have long considered tuna, cannellini beans, and garlic as partners in the kitchen. This set me to wondering if a new version of tuna salad could be created using this time-honored combination of ingredients.

So I took some cannellini beans and gave them a swirl in the food processor with a bit of olive oil and garlic. Voila! I had a creamy and savory binder for tuna salad.

I dumped this in a bowl and added tuna, chopped hard-boiled egg, onion, capers, green olives, and parsley. What a fine sandwich filling it made stuffed into a hard roll along with a handful of spinach.

Besides being a flavor booster, the cannellini beans mixed with olive oil are a stable substitute for mayonnaise. Sandwiches can be toted to school or on picnics without refrigeration being required.

Mix fresh and zesty seasonings with the starter recipe of tuna, cannellini beans, garlic, and oil, and the result is a tuna salad far superior to the mayonnaise-laden kind Americans are accustomed to.

Cannellini beans and tuna pair well with a variety of bold and pungent flavors such as cilantro, capers, olives, and fennel.

My general rule is to add something tart (such as lemon juice, lemon zest, or chutney) and something crunchy (such as celery, pickles, or red pepper), along with herbs and other pantry staples.

I've provided a few of my family's favorite variations. No doubt you'll come up with more ideas of your own.

The starter recipe can also be the basis for converting most tuna- salad recipes into richer versions. No more soggy, limp sandwiches when the time comes to unpack your brown bag or picnic basket.

Tuna Salad Starter

1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained at least 15 minutes (see note)

1 clove garlic, minced

1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 (6 ounce) can albacore tuna packed in water, drained well

Combine beans, garlic, and olive oil in the bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture starts to become creamy. (If beans are really soft you can mash them with a fork.)

Scrape bean mixture into a medium bowl and add tuna. …

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