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Cannellini Bean Salad with Grilled Radicchio and Tuna

In this Italian-inspired salad, bitter radicchio, softened slightly by grilling, is paired with the small white beans popular in Tuscan cooking. Another Italian bean, borlotti, may be substituted. If you don’t have time to soak the beans in cold water, bring the beans and water to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Alternatively, use 3 cups canned beans, drained, rinsed and warmed over medium-low heat. 

Ingredients:

For the beans: 

  • 1 rounded cup dried cannellini beans 
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves 
  • 1 fresh sage sprig  
  •   
  • 2 small heads radicchio 
  • Olive oil for brushing, plus 2 Tbs. 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1 cup chopped celery, including some leaves 
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped 
  • Pinch of dried oregano 
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 can (7 oz.) olive oil-packed tuna, drained and separated into chunks 

Directions:

To prepare the beans, pick over them and discard any misshapen beans or grit. Rinse the beans, put them in a bowl, add water to cover by about 3 inches and soak for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Drain the beans. Place them in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic and sage. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat and oil the grill rack. Or, preheat a broiler.

Cut each radicchio head into 4 to 6 wedges through the core so that the wedges will keep their shape. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

For a grill: Using tongs, place the radicchio wedges over the hottest part of the fire or directly over the heat elements and grill, turning once, until wilted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes total.

For a broiler: Arrange the radicchio wedges in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil, turning once, until wilted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes total.

Drain the beans well and place in a bowl. Add the celery, onion, oregano, the 2 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. of the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Taste and adjust the seasonings with more lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Arrange the radicchio wedges on a platter. Spoon the beans in the center and top with the tuna. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).