This salad should really be called a late spring tuna and bean salad, but the ship has sailed on that one, seeing as not only has the solstice come and gone, but July 4th as well.
And the ship nearly sailed on the ingredients for this salad. I got back from Seattle to find my garlic scapes nearly fully straightened and standing tall, when they should be harvested while the stem still circles over itself. My dill plants were going to seed, and I hadn’t even used them yet. And a quick pantry raid produced the remains of last year’s bulk purchase of flageolet beans and several jars of gourmet jarred tuna I had gotten on sale.
At least the lemon was fresh.
From such inauspicious beginnings, though, I did manage to pull together a rather delicious (and dare I say, fairly healthy) bean salad. If you don’t know flageolets, they are immature kidney beans and thus are as you expect rather mild in flavor. You can happily substitute in the more easily found white beans, which combine just as nicely with the rich flesh of tuna. Finally, dill always makes me think seafood: I suppose that, like lemon, its bracing aroma gives a little lift to fatty briny fish.
And the garlic scapes? I’ll have to ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt on this one. You see, I don’t know if it’s because of my tardy harvest, or the fact that after I picked them I let them languish in my fridge for two more days (not in water, not even in the crisper, the horror!), or both, but as I dug in for my first bite I found myself gnawing on bits of scape that could only be generously described as tough, and which made me feel like I was chewing through bark (not that I’ve ever done that to know, mind you). I had a few mouthfuls, in the hopes that I had just gotten a bad bit, but sadly, my jaw let me know it was going to give out.
But I was able to draw a few conclusions from this (besides that I am not the greatest of amateur farmers). My first few bites told me that as I’d guessed when putting this all together, the flavor of the garlic scape nicely complements this salad, assuming you do not get old stale woody ones. (If you’ve ever had good garlic scapes–as we have in the past–you know that they are typically tender and sweet). My remaining bites, where I dodged as much as possible the little green woody bits, confirmed that the scapes are merely an optional ingredient, and the salad is plenty good without them (which is great because good garlic scales are, ahem, not always easy to find). And you’ll see that whatever you choose to do, the salad is also plenty easy to put together.
- about 2 cups of flageolet or white beans (from ¾ cup dried)
- six ounces of tuna canned in olive oil
- about six garlic scapes (optional)
- 2T olive oil
- several sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
- juice of one lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- If using dried beans, prepare by cooking until tender. Drain the beans well and set aside (but plan to finish the salad while they are still warm; warm briefly if using canned beans)
- Chop the garlic scapes into ¼-inch (2.5cm) pieces. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic scales and sautee gently until soft–this should only take a minute or two.
- Squeeze the lemon juice into the bottom of a large bowl. Add the dill and garlic scapes, then the warm beans and stir. Add the tuna from the jar or can, using a fork to break it up as you go and adding the oil the tuna was packed in. Toss and stir again, adjust for salt and pepper and serve.