INSALATA DI FAGIOLI CON TONNO E RADICCHIO (Tuscan tuna salad with white beans and radicchio, for four)

Salads, tuna, insalata di tonno con fagiole e radicchio 1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s another reason that Tuscans are known in Italy as i mangiafagoili (the bean eaters).

For the beans:

1 rounded cup (8 ounces) dried canellini or borlotti beans

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 or 2 cloves garlic

1 fresh sage sprig

salt to taste

For the salad:

2 small heads radicchio

2 cloves garlic, minced

large pinch salt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing radicchio

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup chopped celery, including some of the leaves

½ small red (Spanish) onion, chopped

large pinch of dried oregano

12 grape tomatoes, washed and halved

1 can (7 ounces) tuna in olive oil, drained and separated into chunks

1. Pick 0ver the beans and discard any misshapen beans or stones. Rinse the beans under cold running water and drain. Place in a large bowl with cold water to cover and let soak for at least 4 hours at room temperature, or as long as overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan with fresh water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic and sage sprig. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beans are tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour. Once cooked, season the beans with salt. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

3. Preheat a broiler or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

4. Cut each radicchio into 4 to 6 wedges through the core, so that the wedges will keep their shape. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil or grill the radicchio, turning once, until wilted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes total.

5. Meanwhile, drain off the excess liquid from the beans. Add the celery, onion, tomato and oregano. Mash the minced garlic with a large pinch of salt to a paste with a heavy knife, then combine it with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (remember, the garlic already had salt in it). Beat until emulsified, then add to the beans mixture and toss well. Taste and adjust the seasonings with more lemon juice, salt or pepper.

6. Arrange the radicchio wedges on a platter. Pile the warm beans in the center and top with the tuna.

NOTE: If you don’t have time to cook the beans from scratch, 3 cups (18 ounces) canned canellini can be substituted. Rinse the beans well and warm them gently over medium-low heat before using.

from Michele Scicolone, Savoring Italy (Williams Sonoma)

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