|Tuna, White Bean Pasta Salad with Herb Caper Pesto|
For this event I chose to use Cannellini beans. They are a variety of white bean popular in Central and Southern Italy, particularly in Tuscany. Other names for the bean include white kidney bean and fazolia bean. They are similar to white navy beans or haricots, as they are known in Britain. These large white beans are often mistaken for great northern beans, as the two are so alike in appearance. You'll want to drain and rinse the beans, which will "refresh" them and remove any excess salt.
For convenience, and to beat the heat, I chose to use the canned variety. You can also cook your own beans. Before cooking, soak cannellini beans overnight, then pressure cook for 18 minutes or simmer on top of the stove for 2 -1/2 to 3 hours. One cup of dried cannellini beans makes approximately 3 cups cooked.
These beans are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, and folate. A single serving of cannellini beans provides more than 20 percent of the recommended daily values of these nutrients. They are also a good source of protein, providing more than 15 grams per serving. Other nutritional benefits include their low fat content and calorie count. Each serving contains only 225 calories and less than one gram of fat. How perfect is that.
According to Lydia of The Perfect Pantry "Cannellini, are so popular in Tuscany that the Tuscan people have been nicknamed mangiafagiole, or "beaneaters". They were originally cultivated in Argentina, and now are grown in Greece, France and central Italy. During the 16th Century, due to Catherine de Medici's attempts to "refine" Italian cuisine, beans were seldom eaten except by the peasant class. However, because of their nutritious (high in fiber, iron, magnesium and folate) and economical benefits, beans slowly returned to favor in Italian cooking, and their popularity spread throughout the northern Mediterranean cuisines."
In this months issue of Food & Wine magazine I came across a tuna and cannellini salad that I thought would make a perfect move over to a pasta salad for a summertime twist on another Italian pasta treat Pasta e Fagioli or "Pasta and Beans." The beans and tuna are combined with a pesto made with parsley, basil, capers and oregano. Capers especially are a perfect marriage for the tuna.
L'il Burnt Toast is coming over to lunch to enjoy a tuna extravaganza!!!!
**Tuna, White Bean Pasta Salad with Herb Caper Pesto**
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano leaves
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Three 7-ounce jars high-quality Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
4 cups gomiti pasta or other elbow shaped past of your choice
In a pit of boiling water cook pasta according to manufacturers directions. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the garlic with the parsley, basil and oregano and blitz until the herbs are coarsely chopped. Add the capers and pine nuts and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and pulse until the pesto comes together but is still chunky. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, break up the tuna into bite-size chunks. Add the cannellini beans, cooked pasta, red onions and caper pesto and toss gently until the salad is evenly coated. Season the tuna salad with salt and pepper and serve,
NOTE: The tossed salad can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
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