Thursday, January 23, 2014

White Bean Salad Recipe with Tuna and Parsley (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)

This White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley has been a summer favorite of mine for years!

White Bean Salad Recipe  with Tuna and Parsley (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free) found on

(This favorite White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley is today's pick for the month of Daily Phase One Recipes. If you've never thought of combining these ingredients, you might be surprised what a delicious lunch salad this is, but be sure to use the tuna packed in olive oil for best flavor. You can see all the recipes from the month by clicking Daily Phase One Recipes.  Check after the recipe for Phase One Flashbacks from this day in 2012 and 2013.)

In the early days of my blog I discovered a delicious and affordable brand of Tuna Packed in Olive Oil, which changed my way of thinking about canned tuna forever.   That tuna plus my love of parsley and lemon inspired my version of this classic tuna and white bean salad and it's turned into a favorite lunch that I've made over and over.   I updated the photo for this recipe in the summer of 2011, when I had plenty of fresh parsley from the garden, but parsley is an herb that's available and inexpensive all year from the grocery store, and I love that this salad uses ingredients I always have on hand.

Nowdays I use cannellini beans for the salad, but most any white beans will work.  Rinse beans and let them drain well.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and fresh ground black pepper to make the dressing.

Put the beans in a bowl and add the dressing.  Let beans marinate while you drain the tuna and chop the parsley and onion.

I use the same mini-colander to drain the tuna.

I use a generous amount of parsley, probably a packed cup of chopped parsley, but if you're not that much of a parsley fan you can use less.

I originally made the salad with chopped red onion, but now I'd probably use sliced green onion instead.

Gently stir the chopped parsley, sliced green onion, and drained tuna into the marinating beans.  Season to taste with more salt and fresh ground black pepper if desired and serve immediately.

And even though I consider myself barely above an amateur photographer, oh how I have improved!  Here's the original photo of this salad from 2007.

White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley

(Makes 2-3 servings, recipe created by Kalyn, inspired by many other similar salads seen in cookbooks and on the web.)

1 can (15.5 oz.) white beans, rinsed and drained well
(I use cannellini beans, but any white beans will work)
1 can Italian tuna in olive oil (5-6 oz.)
(or any tuna packed in oil)
1 cup chopped curly parsley
(or less if you don't love parsley like I do)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion or sliced green onion

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
black pepper and sea salt to taste

Put beans in colander and rinse well with cold water, until no more foam appears. Let drain, then pat dry with paper towels.  In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Put the beans into a bowl big enough to hold all the salad ingredients and mix in dressing.  Let the beans marinate while you drain the tuna, chop the parsley, and dice or slice the onions.

Put the tuna into the same colander you used to drain the beans and let the oil drain off.  (I wipe out the colander with a paper towel so the tuna doesn't get wet.)  Chop the parsley and chop red onions or thinly slice green onion, whichever you're using.

Add chopped parsley, red or green onion, and drained tuna to the marinating beans and gently combine. (Don't overstir, you want the tuna to stay chunky.) 

I usually taste and see if I want a bit more lemon juice  Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt and serve. This will stay good in the refrigerator for at least a day or two, but it probably won't last that long.

South Beach Suggestions:
This salad would be fine for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but limit portion size for phase one.  (If you make it like I do with lots of parsley, you can probably have about a cup for phase one, since the salad is about half tuna and parsley.)

Phase One Flashbacks:
January 23, 2012:  Breakfast Casserole with Spinach, Leeks, Cottage Cheese, and Goat Cheese
January 23, 2013:  Broken Arm Breakfast Casserole with Cottage Cheese, Bacon, Feta, and Green Onions

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Salads with Parsley:
(recipes from other blogs may not be South Beach Friendly, check ingredients)

Cucumber, Onion, and Parsley Salad ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Black Quinoa and Red Lentil Salad with Parsley ~ Healthy Green Kitchen

Kalyn's Tabbouli with Almonds ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Tuna, Parsley, and Radish Salad ~ Always Order Dessert

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.

Blogger Disclosures:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

This salad was originally posted for Weekend Herb Blogging, where I'd written about my love for parsley and even confessed that I kind of prefer the curly type, especially for a salad like this one where you want texture.
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. I love salad like this - white beans, tuna and parsley....perfect spring salad. My parsley is in full second growth!
    BTY - did you know that a proper Salad Nicoise is only made with good canned tuna? Never fresh?

  2. Simple yet delicious!

  3. This looks excellent. I have to travel to get flat-leaf parsley. My local grocery stores only carry the curly type!

  4. Katie, had no idea that Salad Nicoise could be made with canned tuna. Now I need to make it; I've still got a few cans. Very jealous if you have parsley growing.

    Maria, it was amazing.

    Lila, everyone but me seems to like the flatleaf type, and to tell the truth I like both, but I think curly parsley is better in some things, and this is one of them.

    Sher, it's true. I never was that good at making a commitment.

  5. I share your taste in tuna and while the canned varietes of Italian tuna are very good, wait til you buy it by the ounce from a deli in Rome (like Franchi's on Via Cola di Rienzo). Heavenly taste! Romans add to this tuna salad tomato slice when they are in season, and eat it with that wonderful Casareccio bread, dunking every last drop out of the bowl.
    By the way, you have made me to go read up on the South Beach Diet, interesting. I shall incorporate some of the great nutrition tips into my cooking (I am not dieting, just trying to eat healthy). Thank you!

  6. I am totally with you on the cilantro love - it's one of my favorites. Parsley? Eh, not so much. Italian tuna, though, now we're talking! I first discovered it when a made a Spumo di Tonno from Michael Chiarello that is out-of-this-world good.

  7. Kalyn, you are psychic. I have been looking for a recipe like this.

    I could have found one, but life has been so chaotic lately.

    Thank you for making is so easy for me.

  8. Merisi, how I'd love to try that Italian Tuna in Rome! Someday! I do think South Beach is pretty nutritionally sound.

    Cate, cilantro will always be my first love, no doubt about it.

    Mimi, I'm going to make some today, now that I discovered I have parsley growing in my garden. Woo Hoo. (Love the way it comes back like that. For some reason the flat leaf parsley doesn't come back as well for me.)

  9. This sounds great. I'd gotten a can of Italian tuna (for the first time) a while back, and I have a can of white beans, too, so this is my ticket! Nice thing to take to work for lunch, too.

  10. Kalyn, FYI, I made this and posted about it today, linking to you of course...Cheers.

  11. Yum, yum, yum. I adore the extra links to other great recipes; that is, if ever I mix and blend beyond yours:).

  12. Another winner. Today the temps hit over 80 in upstate NY. I had a large bag of parsley and no experience with such quantities. Kalyn to the rescue.

    Both my husband and I were surprised this combination was so tasty. It was fast. It was delicious. And we ate healthy.

    This is going to become a regular dish in our household.

  13. So glad to hear you liked it, and I'm beside myself with jealousy hearing about temperatures in the 80's. Here we are having our usual spring snow!

  14. This is my new lunch. Right here.

  15. Oh my goodness—talk about bad photos! Yikes. (Mine in that 2007 post.) Still, the salad was great, and I'm going to make it your way as soon as I can stand on two feet again. Or maybe I can talk Keith through it. :) SO GOOD. Thanks for this recipe.

  16. Lisa, I still like your 2007 photo better than mine, but then we're always more critical of our own photos, don't you think? Hope you are feeling better soon.

  17. I love looking at photos from our early days of blogging. Sometimes I'm not sure mine have improved all that much! I love white bean and tuna salad. The person who taught me to make it years ago was the manager of our local grocery store. He came from an Italian family, and it was one of their favorite dishes. I've been making it ever since, and with parsley from my own garden it tastes better than ever.

  18. Lydia it seems to me that the garden parsley is just a bit sweeter than the parsley from the store. (Well, as long as you don't let it go too long!)

  19. I would like to try this but I just can't imagine liking the parsley. I always trust you fully and have NEVER been disappointed with a recipe but I'm just not sure. Can you suggest another herb to either replace the parsley or to put with it maybe half and half?

  20. Thanks for the tuna recommendation. I've eaten way too much Starkist tuna as a kid and now associated canned tuna with a bland, almost bitter, tinny taste. Which is unfortunate, since so many good quick recipes involve canned tuna. I'll be sure see if my local supermarkets carry Tonno Genova.

  21. Chasing Joy, I think basil or mint would taste good in this (but I'd use much less basil or mint than I did parsley.) Another thing that I think might be nice in this is just chopped celery and celery leaves to replace the parsley. I am surprised I'm not recommending cilantro since I love it so much, but I just can't imagine it with these flavors.

    Diana, I think that brand is *almost* as good as the much-more-expensive imported Italian tuna I buy occasionally at the Italian market here. I bought a case of 3 oz. cans from Amazon, and really like the small cans.

  22. I love the combination of white beans and tuna and can't wait to try this version. I will probably replace the curly parsley with flat leaf Italian since I like it better. Thanks for another wonderful easy healthy recipe.

  23. Martha, I think I must be the only person who likes curly parsley best, but I'm sure it will be delicious with either kind!

  24. I had a variation of this with Garbanzo beans, tuna, olive oil, vinegar, and tomatoes while I was living in Southern Spain. Are tomatoes included in Phase 1?

  25. Angela, that sounds good. Tomatoes are fine for phase one.

  26. I've ben thinking about this all week long. Now that I'm back in town I am definitely making this!

  27. Your new photo did its job, it reeled me n immediately. I love the combination in this dish of white beans and oil packed tuna, and I'm sure the parsley adds the right touch of freshness to it all. Can't wait to try it.

  28. Sue, so glad! Hope you will enjoy it!

  29. I used to eat this salad almost everyday in Australia! I added cherry tomatoes for some sweetness and celery for extra crunch. Perfect for a summer light meal!

    The Dinner Belle for

  30. Oh I love the sound of both cherry tomatoes and celery as additions to this! Thanks for sharing those ideas.

  31. Ohhhh, I really like the idea of celery with the celery leaves. I think I'll try that. Thanks!

  32. I've made something similar as well - and I LOVE the photo, Kalyn - very pretty!

  33. Chasing Joy, hope you enjoy it with the celery. Someone else had the idea of adding tomatoes too, which I think sounds nice.

    Pille, thanks! I think it's quite an improvement!

  34. Have just discovered your wonderful blog. Just what I need as I begin South Beach.

    Wondering if you discard the oil from the tuna, or use fresh olive oil in the dressing?

  35. I always drain off the oil from the tuna and use fresh oil, but others have also asked that and I'm guessing you could use the oil from the tuna. It would make the tuna flavor more pronounced in the salad though.

    Glad you're enjoying the blog.

  36. Brenda the BarefootcookingirlSeptember 19, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Hey everyone! I always keep the olive oil from the canned tuna! It really give more depth of flavor to the whole dish. I drain in into a measuring jug and make up the rest needed with more EVOO. Delicious! Same with a good greek salad with tuna in oil, use the oil and it's wonderful! I know what we're having for dinner tonight! Your recipe looks wonderful!

  37. Brenda, I do like that idea. Will have to try it.

  38. I used tuna packed in water because that's what I had on hand. I also only used 1/2 can white beans to save on carbs. I used a little less parsley since I was serving this on a bed of greens. I used a little granulated garlic. I served this on a salad with a little crumbled feta on top. This was a tasty, protein packed meal that was still light and perfect for a summer day.

  39. Susan, glad you enjoyed it!

  40. This was good. I never before used curly parsley as a salad green which is pretty much what is happening here. I use flat parsley al the time, mostly in Italian-ish dishes. But curly parsley i think of as some kind of weird garnish from the 70's. This was a revelation. I used the red onion since I like it better than green and I also thought the color looked good in the salad. This may be blasphemy, but since I can't find Italian tuna locally, I just used Starkist or Bumblebee in olive oil, (don't remember which) and it was still delicious. But next time I am in Winston-Salem, my nearest city, I'll look at Whole Foods and Costco for the Italian tuna. If it's any better, I may not be able to stand it.

  41. Bill I am crazy about this salad too! I think any kind of tuna would be good, but I do love that tuna packed in olive oil!

  42. Danielle, I am crazy about it, hope you enjoy!


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