This recipe for Italian Tuna and Green Bean Salad is incredibly simple to make. It only has 7 basic ingredients and makes a tasty and healthy meal!
In my previous post, I talked about how salmon used to be the only fish I disliked, but in hindsight that wasn’t exactly true. There was another fish I’ve always taken issue with: canned tuna. Fresh, rare ruby-toned tuna? I’d eat that all day long. But the pale, flaky stuff in a can? The stuff that looks and smells like cat food? The stuff people call “tunafish?”
Strangely though, in about the last month or so my taste has suddenly shifted. Canned (or jarred) tuna has become a pretty regular staple in my diet. So what changed?
I owe the credit to a chef I started following on Instagram, which is kind of strange to even admit, but it’s true. And boy does it annoy my husband to no end. You see, Chaser makes himself a tunafish sandwich for lunch at least twice a week, and I’ve never wanted any part of it. I grew up eating plenty of tunafish sandwiches, but they never caught on with me the way they did with him. He’s been trying to convince me that they’re delicious since the day we met, but I’ve always turned up my nose and just complained about the smell every time he made one. Now, all of a sudden I’m super into canned tuna after watching some guy’s Instagram story. I can see why he finds that irritating.
Heres the deal: My friend Andrea told me I had to follow a chef named Frank Prisinzano on Instagram this summer when he was traveling through Italy and documenting it all on his stories. Of course, I did, and immediately became mesmerized by his travels. His stories are long – oftentimes too long to sit through – but they’re always peppered with gems of information – cooking tutorials, restaurant recommendations, travel tips, and some pretty ridiculous – for lack of a better word – food porn. We’re heading back to Italy in a few short weeks (!!), so as you can imagine, I’ve been devouring his every move, writing down all the different towns and restaurants and foods to try.
For a large portion of the trip, Frank and his family rented a villa on the Amalfi coast where he did quite a bit of his own cooking. Every day he would put out huge spreads of salads, antipasti and various picky things for lunch, and one of the dishes that kept showing up was this tuna and green bean salad. He kept making it because, in his words, “it was just so good and everyone keeps asking for it again.” I watched him make it a few times and I don’t know what happened, but it sparked something inside of me. It looked so fresh, so simple, so healthy and just so good. I had to have it ASAP.
The next time I went shopping I grabbed a few cans of imported Italian tuna in olive oil. It’s more expensive than the water-packed albacore Chaser makes his sandwiches with, but it’s also more delicious in my opinion. It tastes cleaner and richer, almost buttery, which is probably in part from the olive oil, but it really doesn’t need much adornment after coming out of the can.
This salad is dead simple, so using really good ingredients is essential – that’s the secret. I’m talking high quality extra virgin olive oil, coarse sea salt, sweet, young green beans, fresh red onions, juicy lemons, and of course, Italian (or Spanish) tuna packed in olive oil. The green beans need to get blanched first so that they’ll be tender, but still crunchy. Drop them into boiling salted water for a few seconds, then plop them right into an ice bath. It seems like a fussy step, but it’s so necessary to achieve that perfect snappy texture.
Layer the beans on a big platter with some thinly sliced red onions, then crumble chunks of tuna right on top. Take it straight from the can (or jar) along with a bit of the oil – there’s no need to drain it. Drizzle with copious amounts of olive oil (don’t be shy) and plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice, then give it a nice shower of coarse sea salt – I love the French Sel Gris (gray salt) for this. A few leaves of parsley finish it off with even more freshness. It’s insanely simple, but so, so, so good.
I’ve been exercising a lot lately, and it’s had me craving protein more than usual (I’m a carb girl through and through). This salad has been my go-to for refueling after intense sweat sessions because it’s so easy to throw together, so healthy, and so satisfying. We leave for Italy in a few weeks, and I’m legitimately training for our trip. No joke! There’s soo much uphill walking, and on our last trip I suffered shin splints and sore calfs the entire time. I’m also working on stretching out my stomach and upping my wine intake to prepare for the 10-day eating and drinking marathon. I’m taking this trip very seriously.
This is totally the kind of tuna salad I can get behind. It’s light, refreshing and full of protein, making it an ideal lunch in the summer when green beans are plentiful, but it really works any time of year.
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- 1 lb thin green beans (such as haricot verts) ends removed
- 1/4 - 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 5-oz cans Italian or Spanish tuna in olive oil (don't drain)
- juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste)
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling (I like sel gris)
- 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
- Bring a medium pot of heavily salted water up to a boil and prepare an ice bath.
- Drop the green beans into the water and cook for 20 seconds, then remove them right into the ice bath. Once the beans are cooled, drain thoroughly and blot dry with towels so no moisture remains.
- Transfer the green beans to a large platter, then scatter the red onions and and big chunks of tuna on top along with some of the oil from the can.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and lots of extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and parsley leaves. Serve right away.