Inspired by the tuna salads served on the Aeolian Islands in Sicily, this tuna salad recipe is a hymn to freshness.
Fresh basil, white beans, slightly warm potatoes, canned tuna and cherry tomatoes make a perfect combination that tastes like summer.
It was during my stay on these paradise islands that I discovered this dish.
This salad literally reconciled me with canned tuna and I must have eaten it almost daily at lunchtime during the trip.
Although very tasty, this salad is very easy to make. I especially like the fact that the vegetables in it are easily found all year round at the grocery store.
The result is a very fresh lunch that tastes like summer, even in the middle of winter!
In the version I ate in Sicily, the Aeolian salad contained fewer vegetables.
It is usually only made with potatoes, onions, tuna, tomatoes, capers and sometimes olives.
But to have a little more variety and texture, I added other vegetables such as cucumber and celery.
They usually use capers preserved in salt, one of the specialties of the Aeolian Islands, but I use the marinated ones because they are easier to find here.
Cooking potatoes and substitution
For this salad to be really successful, cooking the potatoes the right way is a very important part.
You can make this recipe with any variety, but ideally, you choose fingerling or baby potatoes.
And this salad is at its best when the potatoes are just cooked through and are still a bit firm and lukewarm.
But to be honest, when I don’t feel like adding that extra prep step, I just don’t add potatoes.
Instead, I add the whole can of white beans, rather than just a cup, as directed in the recipe.
- 7 Fingerling potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 Lebanese cucumber
- 1 stalk of celery
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- 1 tbsp drained capers
- 10 - 12 chopped basil leaves
- 1 cup of canned white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can of tuna (160g), drained
- 1 cup of arugula
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- Juice of a lemon wedge
- Salt, pepper to taste
- Wash the potatoes, cut them into quarters and boil them for 15 minutes or until tender (see Note 1).
- Meanwhile, mince the onions and soak them in a little cold water to reduce their bite (about ten minutes).
- In a bowl, add all the dressing ingredients and mix well, whisking with a fork.
- Dice the celery and cucumber. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
- When the potatoes are cooked, drain them well and let cool a little (see Note 2). Drain the onions.
- In a salad bowl, add all the salad ingredients then pour the dressing.
- Mix well and let stand for a few minutes while the flavors of the dressing are absorbed into the rest of the ingredients.
Note 1: Avoid overcooking the potatoes. We want them tender but still a little firm.
Note 2: This salad is best when the potatoes are added while still lukewarm or at room temperature.
If you prefer not to add the potatoes, just put in all the canned white beans.