A Squared: In My Lunchbox This Week: Italian Tuna & White Bean Salad

Monday, March 24, 2014

In My Lunchbox This Week: Italian Tuna & White Bean Salad

This week's lunch is a healthy recipe inspired by one of my favorite Italian rituals: Aperitivo. Aperitivo is essentially, happy hour in Italy. It isn't quite the same as American happy hour because it's actually better... For a few hours in the evening you can go to an Italian bar and pay 8-10 Euro for a a cocktail and then you get to enjoy some amazing snacks while you sip. This isn't the peanuts and pretzels or even the buffalo wings that you'll get here in the States, but plates or buffets of really good food like cheeses, grilled vegetables, bruschetta, pastas, and salads. It's a wonderful tradition and I highly recommend that you give it a try if/when you find yourself in Italy.

Some aperitivos are misses, while others are most definitely hits. When I was living there, our favorite place for aperitivo was Kitsch. They offered a serious buffet full of really good food so this was like a jackpot for a bunch of cheap American college students-- and a handful of our professors that regularly hung out there with us.

One of my favorite items in Kitsch's buffet was this simple and amazing tuna salad. This is not grandma's creamy mayonnaisey tuna, but instead was lightly dressed and mixed with chickpeas. It was still rich and flavorful, but there was something so simple and special about it. I have tried to recreate it for years without a lot of success, but finally realized that the trick is using Italian olive oil-packed tuna. The flavor is so different and good and it truly completes the salad! I added white beans to mine instead of chickpeas-- because I prefer the texture and mild flavor here-- and then added sweet roasted red peppers, spicy red onion, and dressed it all in a tangy lemon vinaigrette. This could not be a simpler salad, but it is so delicious, is actually very healthy, and it takes me right back to Italy...


  • 8 oz. Italian olive oil-packed tuna
  • 1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained *You could use chickpeas here too
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper, diced *I used the jarred kind and it worked great
  • 2 Tbs. red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Add tuna to a large bowl and use a fork to lightly break up and flake the meat into smaller pieces. Add beans, peppers, and onions to the bowl stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and remaining ingredients through salt and pepper. Pour over the tuna mixture and stir to incorporate.

Serve the salad over arugula (my favorite way), with crackers, or on its own.

Do you need another healthy salad recipe? Try Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Quinoa Salad or Brussels Sprouts & Apple Detox Salad!

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  1. Looks awesome!!! Pinning for future reference!

    1. Thanks, Katie-- so good I had it for lunch two days in a row!

      Also happy to hear that someone else employs my "pinning for future reference" strategy!


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