Tuna salad with white beans is an elegantly simple dish that can be prepped in minutes. Full of protein and healthy fat, it will leave you satisfied but not sluggish.
This is a simple, inexpensive salad that I often have for lunch, as I always have the majority of ingredients on hand. For a little acidity, add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes at the end.–Stanley Tucci
Tuna Salad with White Beans FAQs
Should I use tuna packed in oil or water?
You can use either, although truthfully, tuna packed in oil is going to bring far more flavor to your dish. You can even use the drained oil from the tuna in place of part of the extra-virgin olive oil. Bam! Instant flavor.
What are cannellini beans?
Large Italian beans that are ivory in color, with a plump shape, cannellini beans are prized for their creaminess and availability. Great Northern beans or white navy beans make a perfectly good substitute if you have no cannellini beans on hand.
Tuna Salad with White Beans
- One (5-ounce) can good-quality tuna packed in olive oil drained
- One (15-ounce) can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1/4 small (about 3 oz) red onion thinly sliced into half circles
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Handful of halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
- Juice from 1/2 lemon (optional)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe produces a pretty, protein-filled salad with a minimum of effort and no real skill required. As such, it deserves a place in my files for those nights when I come home late and I’m too tired to cook. I did add the cherry tomato halves. When I tossed in some chopped green pepper I found while scrounging in the refrigerator for the tomatoes and heated some French bread, the dish was determined to be nutritious, flavorful, and altogether satisfying.
As written, the recipe provided 2 servings but the addition of the bread and a larger amount of vegetables could stretch the servings to 3 or 4.
One of the easiest meals you can make with simple ingredients that you always have on hand. I like it seasoned with some lemon juice.
If you want, some variations are possible: replace the bean with chickpeas, the parsley with cilantro, and lime juice in place of lemon. You can also add some red pepper, tomato, or even a boiled egg. The result is always a delicious and satisfying salad with a fresh flavor, ready in minutes!
This recipe is delicious and deliciously simple. Perfect for dinners all week because I never have time to cook.
I stress using the best-quality canned tuna you can find. I added a bit of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. In the future, I may add a dash of lemon zest to brighten up the recipe a little more. I used canned Tonno, which is now available in my grocery store.
This recipe would also be ideal for lunches if your coworkers aren’t overly sensitive to raw onion.
This was quite good, quick, and easy to make. It’s a useful pantry meal to keep in mind and a refreshing alternative to tuna salad with mayo.
My only problem was that the red onion I had on hand had been around a while. I soaked the slices in salted, sugared water for 15 minutes to leech out some of the sharpness. That was somewhat effective but the onion was still a bit too strong in the salad.
I used Wild Planet albacore tuna, Trader Joe’s cannellini beans, Trader Joe’s Kalamata Greek extra-virgin olive oil, and Morton’s kosher salt. I measured the glug of oil into a measuring tablespoon as I poured it. Once mixed into the other ingredients, that 1 tablespoon seemed not quite enough, so I poured another tablespoon. That was a bit too much, so maybe 1 1/2 tablespoons is about right.
I did use the cherry tomatoes. Mine were on the large side, so I quartered instead of halving them. Since I had the onion issue, I didn’t detect a balancing acidic note from the tomatoes but they were a pleasing addition to the salad nonetheless.
This makes 4 largish or 6 more modest servings.
This was the perfect salad to make on a Sunday afternoon after my husband and I came back from the tennis courts and needed to refuel. Both of us hungry and having little patience for anything with long prep/cooking time, we were drawn to this recipe with its ease of construction and satisfying, nutritious ingredients.
The meatiness of the tuna gives this salad a heft that’s satisfying and filling. The red onion adds a nice spiciness and textural crunch that complements the creaminess of the beans. Chopped parsley brings brightness and freshness to the dish.
This recipe is a wonderful palette on which embellishments can be made. I didn’t use the tomatoes. I added lemon zest and fresh-squeezed lemon juice for acidity. While I didn’t make this addition this time, I will take my husband’s suggestion next time and add some capers for the added texture and brininess. Served on a bed of mixed greens with crackers, this salad really hit the spot.
An elegant, delicious, and nutritious meal in a flash (grilled-cheese fast)! The tender beans and meaty tuna are wonderful together and very satisfying. I made it for dinner after coming home late and tired and enjoyed it with a slice of toasted sourdough. I love the simplicity and that there is room for flexibility.
A little lemon juice would be lovely if you have it and other fresh herbs would shine in this recipe as well. I usually find the raw onion flavor a bit too sharp so I used only 1/8 of red onion for a hint of it.
I didn’t use tomatoes since I didn’t have any on hand. This recipe serves 2 people.
This was a great combination of ingredients and was extremely easy to make. I would definitely make this dish again but reduce the red onion. I might even try other types of beans.
I adore canned tuna packed in olive oil. In fact, I don’t buy tuna packed in water anymore since I discovered this tasty variation. The tuna itself has a heartier texture and has much more flavor, which is very important in a simple dish like this one.
The name of this salad is right on key, meaning that it isn’t just focused on the tuna, the beans play a major role in the overall dish. The ratio of beans to flaked tuna is actually about 2:1; this makes this salad a creamy, protein-packed alternative to your basic tuna salad. Very Italian in nature (I’m not a big fan of mayo-based tuna salads, so this one was right up my alley!), I love the fresh taste of the salad—peppery sliced red onion, bright green chopped parsley, white beans, tuna (I used solid white albacore tuna in extra-virgin olive oil), olive oil (I used 3 tablespoons oil), and salt and pepper. It’s important to add enough oil to this dish as it gives the overall salad a lovely moist quality. Without enough oil, it would be quite dry.
I also added about 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes to the mix as well. After I tasted the salad, I decided that it needed 2 extra things: some acidity and some heat. I added about 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar. I think lemon juice would also brighten up the salad. Overall, I loved the salad and can’t wait to have it tomorrow for lunch as well.
It easily serves 4 to 6 people, depending on portion sizes. I served mine over some mache salad greens with some avocado slices. I would say that both hands-on time and total time were about 10 minutes. Very Italian, and molto delizioso!
Here’s the conversation that we usually have in our house when we do not have leftovers from another meal for lunch. “What would you like for lunch?” “Let’s see what we have in the freezer.” Our freezer is stocked with vacuum-sealed packages of stew, or soup, or chili, or lasagna, or another meal that we had leftovers from. Since I tend to cook for the fleet, we tend to always have leftovers. Quite often, a lot of leftovers. This makes for some wonderful lunches to be sure, but I don’t always want something heavy.
This salad can be thrown together in less time than I can defrost and then heat up one of those packages. And this salad is fresh, light, clean, and delicious. This was so delicious that I made it and ate a huge portion of it while waiting for my husband to get home for lunch. We enjoyed it so much, that I made it again a few days later. The first time that I made it, I used parsley as directed to do in the recipe. The second time I had no more parsley but had cilantro. We liked that version just as much.
I always have the ingredients for this salad in our pantry, as I use imported tuna packed in olive oil in many kinds of pasta and salads, and I have cans of beans for many uses. I always have purple onions in the fridge and olive oil, well, that goes without saying. So, it comes down to parsley or cilantro. One is usually always in the fridge. So, there you have it. This salad is a done deal in the time it takes to open those 2 cans and slice some onions.
As far as the amounts of the ingredients in this salad… to me, this is one of those recipes that isn’t really a recipe to be followed precisely. It’s a list of ingredients to be added together to suit your palate. Glugs of olive oil? Again, add it to your liking. The cherry tomatoes that were suggested for a little acidity just reinforced the adage that you should eat things in season. I did scoop a small amount of the salad into another bowl and added some Meyer lemon juice to see if the acidity added anything to the salad. It was good, but not necessary.
Just writing this review has me wanting to make this salad again, which I will definitely do this week. It’s a true winner.
The author was correct in that this is a quick recipe, start to finish it took me less than 5 minutes. I had a leftover red onion already to go. I used the whole thing but I like a lot of onion too.
I had some delicious canned tuna from Samoa and I hate to waste it making tuna salad so this was a great use for it.
We have a nice bunch of currant tomatoes in the garden right now so I added them instead of the cherry tomatoes, it was a nice bit of pop, both literally and in taste.
I also added 3 tablespoons of olive oil but I think you may have to add a little bit more if you did happen to use tuna packed in water instead.
I thought that cumin might go nicely with this salad but next time I’m going to add a sprinkle of ajwain, my latest “experimental” spice.
Originally published March 18, 2021