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A perfect fallback meal: Pasta, Bean and Tuna Salad

pasta, bean and tuna salad

Some of you might be wondering what I’ve been up to lately. Or more importantly, what all that produce in Sunday’s post has been up to. The sad truth is: not a whole lot. I can’t bring myself to feel too bad about it, though. My friend Fiona (she of the shared cheesecake love) is visiting in London for a few days, and I’ve been showing her the town. We’ve been window shopping in Covent Garden, museum hopping in Trafalgar Square, and tomorrow we’ve got a day of antiquing at Portobello market planned.

You might think that home-cooked meals have been few and far between, but not so. I’ve definitely been cooking, but so far it’s been of the quick-to-prepare and delicious-but-not-very-photogenic variety. Obviously, lulls like this leave me a little high and dry on the blogging front. Luckily, I’ve taken to photographing most of what I cook anyway, so a quick scroll through iPhoto is usually enough to come up with a post idea.

For today, then: a fallback meal for a fallback blog post. I’ve been making versions of this salad for years: sometimes with beans, sometimes with pasta, and sometimes with a mix of the two. The mainstays are good canned tuna (preferably the Italian kind, packed in olive oil), fresh green onions and a generous amount of lemon juice. This is one dish I’m never tempted to add things to: other than some olive oil and seasoning, it doesn’t need anything else.

I call this a salad but I’m not sure that’s what it is, technically. (What is a “technical” salad, anyway?) The pasta is hot but the rest of the ingredients are either cold or room-temperature, so it ends up being sort of warm. I love it this way, or right from the fridge; it keeps well and even improves over a few days. Done that way, this is truly a last-minute meal. 

pasta, bean and tuna salad

  • Pasta, Bean and Tuna Salad
  • serves 2, generously 
  • 150g whole wheat pasta (any smallish shape works well)
    1 x 400g can cannelini or borlotti beans
    1 x 185g can tuna (preferably packed in olive oil, but water works fine, too)
    4 spring onions, chopped finely 
    zest and juice of half a lemon 
    3 Tbs. finely chopped parsley 
    up to 1/4 cup olive oil
    sea salt
    black pepper 
  • 1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. When it boils, salt it generously and cook the pasta according to package instructions. 

    2. Drain and rinse the beans and place in a large bowl. Drain the oil or water from the tuna and flake it into the bowl, as well. Add the onions, lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley to the bowl, and set aside.

    3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add the the bowl. Mix gently and add as much olive oil as needed to lightly coat everything- if your tuna was packed in olive oil you will need less, more if it was packed in water. Salt and pepper to taste (I use lots of pepper in this). Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until later.  


  1. Hilary says:

    If you’re spending the day at Portobello market you must stop in for lunch at Books for Cooks! It’s cheap, the atmosphere is cute and the food is excellent (especially the cakes.) The cafe is at the back of the shop and there are only 4 or 5 little tables so you might have to queue, but it’s worth it. One of you can browse the books while the other waits in line – then switch!

  2. Larissa says:

    Yes!!! Books for cooks is the best. It’s where I ran into my good friend Jamie Oliver. I would highly recommend their in-store little cookbooks, I bought all 10!

  3. [...] and Beans  Use my Pasta, Bean and Tuna Salad recipe, but omit the pasta and use half borlotti beans and half cannellini. The colours and [...]

  4. [...] take ‘em all. I like them in soups, curries, cold salads, warm salads- I even like them with pasta, for heaven’s sake! In fact, I just might like beans more than pasta. (Don’t tell my [...]

  5. Michelle says:

    I’ve been vacilating on which of your recipes to make tonight as our ready-for-work lunch option, and I think this will be the winner. :) I’ll double it and add some fresh tarragon that I want to use up and Corey and I will be happily saited at ourrespective desks for the next couple of days. :) Thank you!
    P.S. Your legume salad formula is just about identical to mine. :)

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