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The Full Yield Blog

White Bean Salad with Tuna, Sweet Onions and Fennel

August 08, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

White Bean Salad with Tuna, Sweet Onions and Fennel

Beans don’t always have to be winter foods. Here’s an example of a summer salad, and it’s one you can vary endlessly. The Italian salad on which this is based does not use fennel, but if you feel that fennel is a natural with white beans as I do, you’ll want to use it both as a thinly sliced vegetable, minced greens and in the form of fennel seed.

If you’re going to cook your own beans, soak them overnight first then cook them on the stove but not in a pressure cooker. When it comes to a salad, you want to have some control on the texture of the beans and not overcook them.

This salad only gains in flavor as it sits, so make it even a day before you plan to serve it, then refresh it with some chopped herbs and toss before serving.

Ingredients

1 cup dried white beans, such as cannelloni beans, soaked overnight
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced on a mandolin or by hand
1 small sweet onion or fresh red onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin or by hand
Rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice or strong red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel greens or a mixture of tarragon and parsley
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small can tuna

Preparation

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1.    Pour the soaking water off the beans. Cover with fresh water, bring to a boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon salt, and simmer, partially covered, until they’re tender but still hold their shape, about an hour.

2.    While the beans are cooking, toss the sliced onions in a few tablespoons rice vinegar and set aside, turning the occasionally, to take away their raw taste.
Make vinaigrette by whisking 2 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar with 5 tablespoons olive oil.

3.    When the beans are done, drain them then put them in a shallow dish and toss them with the vinaigrette and minced fennel greens and season well to taste with salt and pepper. Break the tuna into chunks and toss it with the beans, then cover the whole with the shaved fennel and pickled onion. Taste. You might want to add a little vinegar at the end or you can serve it with the salad for people to season on their own.

Serves 4-6

Simple Variations

If you don’t care for fennel and its anise flavor, use finely sliced parsley for its freshness and crunch.  Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice would work in place of the red wine vinegar.  Sun Gold tomatoes, sliced in half, would be both pretty and delicious.  Olives and capers will make a more zingy salad.