Tuna-Cado Dinner: No-Cook White Bean Salad with Avocado and Tuna


If you’re like me, there are some days you will not be going to the grocery store. Maybe it’s Sunday and you know how crazy the parking lot is or perhaps it’s a warm Thursday night and you’ve had it.  (What is “it?”)  Could be you’re too busy enjoying the irises blooming for the first time in eleven years – below.  Or you’re avoiding the mama robin nested outside your back door so you can work in the garden without her defecating on you. (Second photo below: Yes, she did this to me.)

IMG_2433 IMG_2437

In reality, you unthawed nothing because you were, uh, working, reading a sleazy novel at the pool, running kids, on a hike, at a meeting, or watching movies. Could be you’re lazy, which is an admirable once-in-a-while quality. Do cultivate it.  You are not lighting the grill and you’re not opting out by ordering pizza or Chinese. You could eat a green salad. Again.

Tucker and Rosie in family room

                      Our dogs always hope I go with the pizza idea as they get the crust.


Instead,  you’ll peek into your well-stocked pantry and find canned cannellini or northern beans right next to a big stack of cans of wild, sustainable pole/line-caught tuna in oil or its own juices.  (Please don’t eat tuna packed in water.  Imagine hamburger in water.   Pork chops in water.  No; you wouldn’t do it.  Don’t eat that tuna, either.)  If you can find Italian tuna in a glass jar, all the better.



If your larder includes a selection of ripe tomatoes, avocados, onions, and your garden is lush with cool green herbs, you’re in business.  No yard? A bucket of herbs on the porch or in a south window will also work, as will a trip to the farmer’s market.


A little chop, a gentle mix, a lathering of heart-healthy olive oil, a big squeeze of lemon, several turns of the pepper grinder, and the dinner business is dispensed with.   This recipe is a simple riff on one in my soup cookbook, SOUPS & SIDES FOR EVERY SEASON, though it took me a while to think of that. Beans, veggies, lemons, olive oil; they’re just summer non-cooking love to me.

If you’ve made “Tuna-Cannellini Bean Salad with Feta,” you might want to give today’s offering a whirl, too.  Make enough for tomorrow’s lunch, too. Why not? It’s a quick, happy tummy-filler, inexpensive, keeps, and is even good for you.  Want a picnic?  Pile the bean and tuna salad into containers and take the avocados whole along with a knife and cutting board. Assemble the salad on site.  Try this:




4 servings

Do what you like with this little ditty. Cucumbers? Why not? Fennel? Sure. Zucchini? Of course. Be happy in your stirring. If you’d like, you can also sprinkle in 2 well-crumbled pieces of bacon. Adjust salt accordingly.

  • 2  15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed  (about 3 cups cooked beans)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon to start + 4 tablespoons later)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cans wild, sustainable tuna (flaked with a fork in a small bowl)–no need to drain
  • 1/4 cup each:  minced red sweet pepper or tomatoes, minced red onion, chopped kalamata olives (can sub 1/8 cup chopped capers or pickles OR 2 mashed anchovy fillets)
  • 1/4 cup each chopped fresh parsley and basil (reserve a bit for garnish)
  • 2 lemons:  one to juice in salad and one in wedges for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut in half, peeled, seeded. Slice each half into four pieces vertically. (Don’t forget to rinse the avocado before slicing in half.)—-Can sub 2 cups cooked green beans (Use 1/2 cup as the base for each salad.)
  • 2 cups fresh greens, such as spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped very sharp Cheddar cheese, such as Cabot or Dubliner (Can sub grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.)

Mix together beans with a drizzle (1 teaspoon) olive oil and a just a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit a minute or two.  Add tuna, red pepper, red onion, olives, parsley, basil, the juice of one lemon, red wine vinegar, the crushed red pepper-if using-, 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and 4 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Stir together well, but gently so that beans aren’t mashed and tuna is somewhat flaky. Taste and adjust seasonings, including lemon juice and vinegar. (I occasionally add a little Tabasco to this sort of salad.)

Line 4 plates or bowls with spinach leaves, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top each with 4 avocado slices (half an avocado).  Using a dry (metal) measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup (press a bit into the measure to shape the salad) and tip out carefully onto each avocado half to maintain domed shape. Garnish with reserved fresh herbs, a little sharp Cheddar, any of the other chopped vegetables leftover, and the lemon wedges.  Give the whole salad one last grind of black pepper.  Any left:  It’s lunch!

Wine:  I’ll bite the acid bullet and throw in a cold Sauvignon Blanc here. If you can’t handle that, a Viognier or even a Riesling could work.

Dessert:  Strawberries


PRINTABLE RECIPE:  Recipes-Salads-Tuna-Cado 


COOKING YOUR OWN BEANS GENERAL INFO:  You could also have cooked some dried beans in just a couple of hours on the stove OR overnight in the slow cooker to avoid heating up that kitchen. They will even cook covered in an old roasting pan in the oven, as will bean soup, by the way. (SLOW COOKER BEANS AT ALTITUDE -above 3,000 feet-  You’ll need to soak beans 8 hours –or cover with water in a pot and boil for 10 minutes and let sit an hour–and then cook with lots of water 10-12 hours. Start them on high for an hour or two. I find cooking them on the stove after the 10 minute/1 hour starter soak is just a whole lot easier and faster at 6,500 feet. No trouble at all. I also occasionally fix them in the microwave, though it takes a very large bowl that will fit in your microwave.)

If you’re not at altitude, you probably might be able to skip soaking your beans; that’s the current wisdom. You will, I think, have less rumbly tumbly if you do soak them using any method, though. Garlic and/or ginger in the pot also helps. That’s my experience.  (If you eat beans or lentils every day, your tumbly will be just fine with rarely a rumbly at all.)  “Oh, bother,” as Winnie-the-Pooh would say.


If you liked this, you might like my

Grilled Tuna Bowl


or my…

Puy Lentil-Sweet Potato Salad with Mustard and Thyme  (Puy lentils are green lentils from near Le Puy-en-Velay, France. Any lentil will do, though I prefer a green lentil here and, even better, green lentils from Le Puy-en-Velay, which are jewel-like.)



Sing a new song,


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