Tuna salad in America is different from tuna salad in Europe, in part because our canned tuna is different.
In Europe, you can buy jars and tins of fish that taste so fresh and flaky, you’d never know they were preserved for shelf storage. In the U.S., canned fish has improved over the years, especially with the addition of those easy-to-open packets of tuna, but you don’t have to look too far to find watery tuna — and mushy tuna salad.
Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis prefers this kind of tuna salad, one made with high-quality tuna from a jar (or a can) that sits on top of a white bean and mascarpone spread. The oil-packed fish is mixed with an array of ingredients that you can adjust to your preference; the final result is a light tuna salad that travels well for picnics, barbecues or other summertime adventures. You could always skip making the white bean spread from scratch and substitute a layer of mayonnaise on the English muffin, but De Laurentiis shares good ideas for using up any remaining spread if you do make it and have extra.
Sicilian Tuna Salad Sandwich
This is inspired by the sandwiches my family always brought along for picnics at the beach, while hiking, or just sitting by the pool. The crisp English muffin makes the sandwich so much lighter — and so easy to eat. A creamy white bean spread made with mascarpone cheese acts as a mayo substitute; it’s the perfect counterpoint to the zesty tuna mixture, but you could also use it as a dip for veggies or as a pita filling with grilled fish, chicken or veggies.
— Giada De Laurentiis
For the white bean mascarpone spread:
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
For the tuna salad:
1 (6.7-ounce) jar olive-oil packed tuna, drained and flaked
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 English muffins, toasted
1/4 cup baby arugula
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Make the white bean spread: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans, mascarpone, salt and lemon zest, and process for 30 seconds, until pureed. With the machine running, add the lemon juice and olive oil, and continue to process until smooth, about another 30 seconds. Set aside.
Make the tuna salad: In a medium bowl, stir together the tuna, chopped celery stalks and leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Spread 2 tablespoons of the white bean spread onto each English muffin half. Arrange a few arugula leaves on the spread and top with 2 tablespoons of the tuna salad and a drizzle of olive oil. Makes 6 open-faced sandwiches.
— From “Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita” by Giada De Laurentiis (Clarkson Potter, $35)