Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nigella's Budgets and Bargains: Tuna & Beans

This week we are cooking up Nigella Lawson's "Budgets and Bargains" over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, so I chose the Tuna and Beans from Nigella Express. It's an easy pantry meal that fits into the budget and is healthy and satisfying too. I eat beans with tuna fairly often but usually using cannellini beans or chickpeas, so I liked the fact that Nigella's recipe used borlotti beans, also called cranberry beans. The recipe called for canned borlotti beans but they are difficult to find here and more expensive, while a bag of dried cranberry beans (from Bob's Red Mill) are more budget friendly and healthier as I can control the salt while cooking them.

Nigella says, "This has always been
the Italian antipasto but although traditionally you are more likely to come across it as the combination of tonno and cannellini, I love the flecked terra-cotta of cranberry beans, giving you the colors of Tuscany on a plate. And if you are feeling less formally Italianate in mood, then this makes a simple speedy supper for two; all I'd want alongside is some good bread."

Tuna and Beans
Nigella Express, Nigella Lawson
(Serves 4-6 as a starter or part of a meal)

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 14-oz cans borlotti or cranberry beans
1 8-oz can best-quality tuna to give 1 1/4 cups
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Put the chopped onion into a bowl with the lemon juice and let it steep while you get on with the salad. Drain the beans and rinse them to get rid of any gloop, then arrange them in a bowl. Drain the tuna and flake it into the beans.

Add the olive oil to the onion and lemon juice and whisk it to make a dressing, pour this over the tuna and beans, and transfer to a serving dish. Fork the salad through, seasoning with salt and pepper, and then scatter over the parsley; if you want to put this on a plate (rather than a dish), consider strewing the plate with arugula first, or using it to make a leafy border.

Notes/Results: Simple and delicious, this is one of those recipes where a few very simple ingredients come together really well. Because of the few ingredients, you'll want to use good quality tuna and olive oil--but even so it is still a hearty and economical dish. This is a great recipe to make ahead of time, giving the flavors time to meld and it tastes great cold or at room temperature and even better the next day, making it perfect for lunches. I soaked and cooked the beans the day before making the salad and then just tossed it all together. I like the creamy texture of the cooked cranberry beans and they give a slightly earthier flavor than cannellini beans. I will be happily eating the leftovers this week and would make this again.

You can see what Budgets and Bargains the other IHCC members made and what they thought of them by going to the post (here) and following the links.


  1. Ciao This is one of the best things my huband loves !!

  2. I am definitely bookmarking this for my lunches for the week! way cheaper than buying anything around here and also insanely healthier!

  3. Yum - I love canned tuna.
    This looks really tasty, I'll be making it soon.

  4. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I don't love tuna, but for some reason this recipe has always held my attention. It looks so pretty, simple and at the same time healthy and packed with protein. I've been thinking of making this for my husband and it helps to know that you enjoyed it. I think he would too!

  5. Deb, there is something about a delicious cold bean salad. The flavors of the ingredients each stand out on their own, but never to the point of over-powering the other.

    Great recipe, thanks...

  6. Fantastic choice...i love r portuguese tuna's and am always looking for NL recipes to toss a good healthy salad....i would love to try this with freah rajma beans .....

  7. Sounds fantastic for lunch, a great combination!

  8. Yummie, like the simplicity of this dish...

  9. A very tasty dish for lunch, I think!

  10. oh this is great my Grandma makes salads like this

  11. Tuna and Beans is a lovely meal of my past. My Sicilian grandmother use to make it with cici beans. (Garbanzo beans) Yours looks beautiful, Deb.

    Thanks for sharing...

  12. Although canned tuna brings back memories of tuna casserole (yuck!), I'm sure this is fresher and healthier!

  13. I went through a phase of eating this a lot, but I haven't had it in ages! So healthy and delicious (and cheap is good too).

  14. I've never heard of cranberry beans before. Looks like a perfect light, lunch.

  15. Tuna and cannelini beans is one of my favorites. I've never even had borlotti beans before. They look just as delicious!

  16. Im going to have to look for cranberry beans. My family wont eat tuna, but it sounds like it would be good with canned chicken too. Thanks for posting it.

  17. Wow! This is a Nigella recipe that I would probably not have tried, but now I will! Looks yummy!


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