The perfect summer tuna salad

Here in Italy, this beans and tuna salad is a great classic, eaten especially during the summer months to fight the growing heat. According to tradition, this dish originates in northern Tuscany, but it’s widely prepared all over the country, sometimes with regional variations. In the southern regions of Italy for instance, it’s quite common to add a few fresh chilies in place of pepper, or to use chili infused olive oil instead of the regular one.

Quick and inexpensive

This straightforward tuna salad is a super-fast lunch recipe.  It is very satisfying and ideal for those times when you need to pull together a full meal as quickly as possible. In fact, it’s beyond simple to make, and it’s prepared with basic ingredients that every one of us has stocked in the pantry.  It’s extremely inexpensive and great in every season of the year.

Beans and tuna salad is a delicious rustic dish, packed with proteins and characterized by the sweet sharpness of the red onion, the richness of the canned tuna and the creaminess of the cannellini beans. If you like simple recipes and strong flavors, this is definitely the recipe for you!

Canned or fresh beans?

In theory, this simple salad should be prepared with dried cannellini beans soaked overnight and then boiled, but I think canned ones work perfectly fine as well, just make sure they are not too mushy. Also, for a great result it is essential that your tuna is packed in oil and not in water.

Finally, this is the simplest and most traditional version of this tuna salad, but if you’d like to enrich it with a few extra ingredients all you have to do is to add cherry tomatoes, arugula, capers or anything else you fancy. Here in Liguria for instance, when we prepare this salad, some nice niçoise olives are almost always featured.


Here are some other authentic Mediterranean tuna recipes:

Tuna Deviled Eggs (Spain)

Tuna Patties Fried in Olive Oil (France)

Tuna Salad with Egg and Potato (Spain)

Beans and Tuna Salad (Italy)

Beans and Tuna Salad (Italy)

4.82 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 583 kcal


  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can (15oz) cannellini beans
  • 1/2 red onion, preferably Tropea variety
  • 7 ounces canned tuna in oil, drained
  • 1 tsp minced parsley


  • In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper to create a vinaigrette.
  • Drain the beans and rinse well under running cold water.
  • Slice the red onion as thinly as possible.
  • Flake the canned tuna with the help of a fork.
  • Add all the ingredients to the bowl, leaving parsley for last.
  • Gently toss everything together to make sure every bit is evenly coated.


Calories: 583kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 45gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 364mgPotassium: 1250mgFiber: 11gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 82IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 180mgIron: 8mg
Have you tried this recipe? Tell us about it!Click here to rate this recipe in the comments section below.
About the Author: Giorgia Fontana
Giorgia was born in a small town on the Italian Riviera, half the way between Genova and the Cinque Terre, just a few miles away from where pesto was invented. She has a background in psychology and neuroscience and is now completing her training to become a licensed psychologist while working as a web writer. As most of the time happens in Italy, it was her lovely grandmother that taught her how to cook and enjoy every bite of simple and genuine food. Giorgia loves preparing meals for family and friends and her specialty are authentic Sicilian and Ligurian dishes. Other than cooking, her greatest passions are traveling and trekking. Her biggest dream is to be able to see (and taste!) as much of the word as possible.


  1. Vicki November 9, 2023 at 8:57 am - Reply

    5 stars
    You would think that this combo of beans and tuna would not because I was in a hurry to make a lunch,
    This was delicious and so filling I had some pita bread with it. You could have a side salad with it if you wanted. Super easy to make. Love your recipes!

    • Winter LeBlanc November 16, 2023 at 11:05 am - Reply

      Thank you! – Mediterranean Living Team

  2. Robert N King September 15, 2022 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    4 stars
    Easy to make and a great combo off flavors .

  3. Colleen April 9, 2022 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Easy and yummy

  4. Christopher Cook August 11, 2020 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Definitely making this a lunch regular, sooo delicious and easy!!!

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