Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tuna White Bean and Fennel Salad

Tuna White Bean and Fennel Salad
Why this recipe works: This quick salad takes its inspiration from Tuscany, where hearty portions of round white beans and high quality canned tuna are lightly dressed with olive oil for an easy summer dinner. We wanted to toss in some sliced fennel for added flavor and depth, but we found its crunchy bite a bit distracting. So instead of cutting the fennel by hand, we use a mandoline to make paper thin pieces. This technique also gives us soft ribbons a visually appealing addition to this multi textured salad. The strong citrus taste of the vinaigrette stands up to the other flavors in this dish, but it can be a little cloying. To counteract the sweetness, as well as the peppery taste of the watercress, we bring in the strong, briny flavor of oil cured olives. We found that there are huge differences in quality from one brand of canned tuna to the next. It’s important to pay attention to the texture of the tuna, specifically we wanted flaky chunks, not cat food.

Tuna, white bean, and fennel salad with orange vinaigrette
Ingredients: serve 4
4 (3 inch) strips zest, pith removed, and sliced into thin strips, and ½ cup juice from 2 oranges
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme salt and pepper
2 bunches watercress, trimmed (about 8 cups)
1 (16 ounces) can cannelloni beans, drained rinsed
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and sliced very thin on mandoline
½ cup pitted oil cured olives, halved
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 (12 ounce) cans tuna in water, drained and broken into bit size pieces

  1. Combine zest, orange juice, and lemon juice in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl, whisk in oil and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In large bowl, combine watercress, beans, fennel, olives and tomatoes. Toss with vinaigrette until well coated and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on individual serving plates and top with pieces of tuna. Serve.

Smart shopping canned tuna
Given the minimal flavor differences in canned tunas, our test kitchen tasters focused on texture and that’s where chicken of the sea solid white albacore tuna in water gained an advantage over other tunas. This meaty canned tuna won raves for its moist texture, chunky appearance, large, beautiful flakes, and taste of the ocean.

Quick prep tip cutting orange zest
A vegetable peeler is a great tool for removing the zest from citrus fruit gently peel away a wide piece of zest, being careful to avoid any of the bitter white pith beneath it.

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