I had to change computers recently, when my old computer started making strange whirring noises and mostly, working very, very slowly. I’m pretty sure it had some sort of virus on it, too, because the browser started acting strangely. Anyway, my father – who firmly believes I should rid myself of anything associated with The Departed – decided to replace my old computer, which was lucky for me, because things just zip along now in a way they never did before, and the world is a much prettier place when viewed on my new monitor. I’m slowly moving files over from the old machine, but it’s a tedious task: the old computer is very reluctant to give them up, and complains loudly when I attempt to. I’m moving only what I must.
This is a roundabout way of saying, I lost some stuff, and it’s not my fault.
One of the things I lost was a recipe that I had saved on my desktop, for Tuna and White Bean salad. It sounded like such a lovely combination, and perhaps more important, like something The Child might eat, because those are basically two of the only things she does eat. I think the recipe may have included artichoke hearts, a favorite of mine, but I wouldn’t swear to it.
We’ll never know, because it’s gone, and several attempt to Google that exact recipe ended in failure – although I came up with numerous other similar recipes.
Yet again, though, I got lucky: I received a review copy of Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan. Giuliano is the son of Marcella Hazan, whose Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking really transformed my cooking, with its simple recipes and clear explanations of what to do and why when cooking them.
I was pleased to discover that not only does Hazan Family Favorites have a recipe for Tuna, Bean, and Red Onion salad, but also that it is written in similar fashion to Marcella’s masterwork, with clear explanations of what you need to know to really get a recipe right.
In this recipe, Hazan explains, you really don’t want to use the bland water-packed tuna you probably have a can of on your shelves; rather, you want to use Italian olive-oil packed tuna, and if possible, the kind that comes packed in a glass jar, as it is typically the best quality. After a lifetime spent eating the American canned stuff, it was hard for me to get my mind around the idea of flavorful tuna, and harder still when I got to the store and found several varieties of Italian glass-jarred tuna, the cheapest of which sold for $7. Still, I bought it, and was stunned to discover that this tuna was moist and very, very richly flavored.
I made the salad as directed, with the minor modification of reducing the amount of olive oil from Hazan’s version, as it seemed oily enough after 2 tbsps – though this may have been a result of me not draining the tuna sufficiently, probably because I was too busy savoring it and trying to restrain myself from eating it straight from the jar. Use your judgment on the oil, that’s all I’m saying.
I offered a plate of the salad to The Child, who pronounced it delicious, and also observed that it was the first time she had ever eaten a fresh onion that she liked. Hazan recommends soaking the onion slices for 15 minutes to cut the sharpness, and I think this is spot-on; there is still a nice kick from the fresh onion, but they aren’t overbearing.
It’s a simple dish to make, but packed with flavor, which improves the next day. Hazan claims it serves four, which it might as a starter. It made two dinners and a lunch at our house.
- ½ small red onion
- 7 ounces canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the onion and thinly slice it crosswise. Put the slices into a bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 15 minutes.
- Place the tuna in a large serving bowl and break into pieces with a fork. Add the beans. Drain the water from the onions and pat dry; add onions to the bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper, add oil and vinegar, and toss to mix thoroughly.