Tuna and Bean Salad – Italian Style

Tuna and bean salad is a classic Italian dish.  I love to add the tuna and beans to a big bowl of bitter greens lettuces, making it feel more substantial.  I toss it with a  homemade dressing with lots of olives and capers, adding a nice pop of acidity.

There are many different kinds of bitter green lettuces to choose from such as escarole, endive, frisee and radicchio.  Today I used romaine lettuce for a sweeter flavor and endive, radicchio and Belgian endive to add a bitter note.  Escarole and frisee are also tasty bitter greens, but any fresh salad greens that you like will work.  

I use canned cannellini beans (sometimes called white kidney beans) in this salad as you can just give them a quick rinse and they’re ready to use.  They have a nice creamy texture and are also very nutritious. 


Good Quality Ingredients make all the Difference

Using a good Italian or Spanish canned tuna that’s packed in olive oil puts this salad over the top!  It’s completely different than the canned tuna in water that I grew up eating.  This tuna has a moist, silky texture and rich, meaty taste that is enhanced by being preserved with olive oil.  This type of tuna works well in salads, sandwiches and pastas, like our Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce.  

I use Sicilian olive oil for the salad dressing as it is bright and grassy in flavor.  I find that it stands up well to the all the bold flavors in this salad.

Serve this Tuna and Bean Salad for lunch, a light dinner or an appetizer

We had our friends, Rocco and Lindi, over for lunch the other day and since Lindi eats gluten free I was trying to think of something light to make, but not the same boring salad.  This tuna and bean salad came to mind.  We enjoyed it so much; we ate it all!

You can serve this tuna and bean salad for many occasions such as a nice lunch, a light dinner or even a cocktail party.  Pairing it with a cheese and salami plate as part of an array of appetizers to go along with a glass of wine makes the ideal gathering.

Italian Style Tuna and Bean Salad

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Margaret Sanfelippo Course: Main Dish, Salads, AppetizersCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Total time



This is an easy salad of tuna, beans and bitter greens with a homemade dressing that has lots of olives and capers.


  • 5 cups 5 assortment of salad greens, chopped (such as romaine, frisee, radicchio, belgian endive)

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 parsley, chopped

  • 4 can 4 can Italian or Spanish tuna packed in olive oil

  • 15.5 can 15.5 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 2 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 garlic salt

  • 2 tsp 2 dijon mustard

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 green olives, chopped

  • 1 tbsp 1 capers, chopped

  • 2 tsp 2 red wine vinegar

  • 2 tsp 2 fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Sicilian olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 red pepper flakes

  • 3/4 tsp 3/4 salt

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 pepper


  • Mix the tuna with the olive oil, cannellini beans and scallions in a small bowl.  Season with the garlic salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
  • Toss the greens and chopped parsley in a large bowl.
  • To make the dressing, mix the dijion mustard, green olives, capers, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
  • Add the tuna and bean mixture to the greens.  Dress with the salad dressing.  Season the salad with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  • Serve immediately.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *