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tomatoes

Cooking

Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad

tuscan bean salad in a bowl

My Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad is as delicious as it is nutrient-dense. This Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad contains beans and tuna for protein, torn naan bread for carbs, tomatoes and herbs for fibre and vitamins and is sprinkled with olive oil and red wine vinegar. The olive oil will keep the salad moist, keep you filled longer and provides numerous health benefits.tuscan tuna, bean, tomato salad in a bowl

I created this recipe last week when the temperature hit an all-time high of 47 degrees celsius in Ottawa. That is the hottest day I have ever experienced, and that includes visiting Hawaii in August!  I was inspired to make a Tuscan salad after leafing through Emiko Davis’s cookbook, Florentine. So many of her Tuscan recipes feature so many of my favourite  ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, onions, fresh herbs, country bread, and beans.

tuscan tuna, bean, tomato salad in a bowl

I love italian food, but Tuscan recipes are even more special.  Everything is so simple, and yet come together so naturally, like all the ingredients belong together. This simple salad can be prepared in about 10 minutes with a tin of tuna and beans, fresh cherry tomatoes and some other pantry supplies.

This salad is perfect for a light backyard lunch, a picnic at the beach or a packed lunch. Whatever the occasion, this salad’s fresh flavours and contrasting textures will provide you with a delicious nutritious lunch.

This salad would also work with  garbanzo beans (chick peas) or romano beans, if you don’t have pinto beans. I’m just partial to pinto beans. You can make this salad vegan by eliminating the cheese and tuna. Then increase the other ingredients by about one third.

tuscan tuna, bean, tomato salad in a bowl

Tuscan Tuna, Bean, Tomato Salad

Print Recipe
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 100 grams pinto beans
  • 100 grams tuna, in oil, drained
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • about 12 basil leaves, or a few squeezes of basil paste
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a drizzle of red wine vinegar
  • a pinch of coarsely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 a naan bread, torn into pieces

Instructions

1

Drain and rinse the pinto beans.

2

Drain the tuna.

3

Add the pinto beans and tuna to a bowl. Add the cut up cherry tomatoes. Add the basil.

4

Tear up some naan bread, and add to the bowl.

5

Drizzle over some olive oil and a bit of red wine vinegar. I usually like a bit more oil than vinegar.

6

Mix everything loosely with your fingers.

7

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

adapted from Florentine by Emiko Davies

Cooking/ Preserves

Robust Red Tomato Sauce

pitcher of tomato sauce and tomatoes

Tomato Sauce is one of the simplest pantry items anyone can make. It also freezes beautifully. It’s so handy to have a few tubs in the freezer so whenever I have time to make some sauce, I make double or triple the amount and freeze it for a quick dinner.

You can make SO many quick dinners when there is a ready made tub of tomato sauce in your freezer: pasta + sauce + parmesan cheese; pasta + sauce + sausage; pasta + sauce + any green vegetable from the crisper drawer such as spinach, zucchini, or even just onion or garlic; or tortellini + sauce + parmesan. Homemade sauce is so simple, and so much tastier than store bought that I try not to purchase bottled sauce too often. It is also more economical and healthier as there is much less salt.

This Robust Red Tomato Sauce is my go-to sauce for all pasta or pizza dishes. I love it because it has a very deep rich tomato flavour. I know other people like to add onions, garlic and sometimes carrots for sweetness, but I like the rich tomato flavour scented with only bay leaves.

pitcher of tomato sauce and tomatoes

If you are lucky enough to have a vegetable patch in your yard, or perhaps you rent an allotment garden, you could try growing your own tomatoes. Tomatoes used to make sauce are a different variety than eating tomatoes. You’ll want to look for paste tomatoes. Paste tomatoes have fewer seeds and have a firmer texture. They also all ripen at the same time, so processing the tomatoes into sauce is easy. Paste tomatoes may seem a bit bland when eaten raw, but when cooked down, they turn into a delicious sauce. Some varieties to look for are: San Marzano, Amish or Roma.

Personally, I buy whatever tins of tomatoes are on sale at the local grocery store. I also tend to buy tins with No Salt Added. However, if I am making a special pasta dish for guests or perhaps taking a lasagna to someone’s house, I would search out a more expensive brand such as Muir Glen, Eden Organic or San Marzano tinned tomatoes. These tomatoes do tend to have a richer and pastier texture. And the taste is divine.

Winter is the perfect time for making tomato sauce and all the accompanying pasta dishes. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a few tins of tomato sauce and simmer them on the stove while you browse through your favorite italian cookbook and bookmark a few italian dishes to make with your gorgeous homemade tomato sauce.

pitcher of tomato sauce and tomatoes

Robust Red Tomato Sauce

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 can (796 ml) whole tomatoes (I use no salt added, but you can use either)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small can tomato paste

Instructions

1

Empty the can of tomatoes into a large pot. Squish all the tomatoes with your hands until well broken up.

2

Add two bay leaves.

3

Simmer on low for about 30 - 40 minutes, until reduced by about 1/3, with the lid half covering the pot.

4

Add tomato paste to taste. I usually add about 2-3 tablespoons.

5

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

This recipe multiplies well. Increase the cooking time to about an hour for large batches. It should reduce by about 1/3.