August 10, 2008

tuscan cannellini and tuna salad

This a favorite summer side dish. It was one of the first things I ate during my under-appreciated college study abroad experience in rural Tuscany, cooked up and served in an old farmhouse by a cozy, grandmotherly lady who could barely understand my expressions of gratitude, despite cinque semestre d'italiano. (I also enjoyed the homemade wine made by our retired hosts, available to us students in a blue milk crate in the corner of the kitchen for $4 a bottle, but that's another story! Did I mention that I didn't fully appreciate what a fantastic summer that was?)

It was also intended for my entry for A Southern Grace's fun Beat the Heat event this week! I believe I've missed the deadline, but check out Grace's site for lots of no-heat-allowed cooking to cool down this week. (Not to mention her great site, on which you'll find--among other great posts--a plethora of gorgeous pies, cookies, and cakes!)

Tuscan Cannellini and Tuna Salad

1 medium vidalia or other sweet onion
2 cans cannellini, drained
1 can good-quality dark meat tuna in olive oil, drained
1-2 T olive oil
dash of balsamic or other red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 t capers

1. Mellow the onions. Finely slice the onion and place it in a medium bowl. Cover with cold water and quickly squeeze the onions 5-10 times. You should notice the water becomes a little cloudy, which indicates that the excess acid is getting flushed out of the onion. Drain the water, cover again with cold water, and repeat 2-3 times. Drain and place the onions in a towel and squeeze out all the excess water.

2. Combine ingredients. Into a medium bowl or serving dish add beans, onions, capers, vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle generously with olive oil and combine. Add the tuna, gently breaking up into large flakes. Fold it into the mixture.

3. Serve. Top with Parmesan curls and serve immediately.

To add to the cooling effect? Add a nice cold glass of Vinho Verde. So affordable, and yet so crisp and effervescent. I love it!