Beat the heat with this savory no-cook summer dish
There comes a time every summer when the heat gets us down. And cooking sounds like no fun at all.
So what to do? Well, just raid the garden for greens and the pantry for a few staples. Then put together this quick no-cook dish. It’s satisfying but not heavy, with loads of healthy flavor.
This salad makes a great one-dish meal or a hearty side. It’s perfect for picnics too. And it takes only minutes to prepare, so you’ll be out of the kitchen in no time—and ready for some summer fun. Pool party, anyone?
Recipe: White Bean, Tuna, and Swiss Chard Salad
This dish is quite similar to our White Bean and Tuna Salad and our Summer White Bean and Quinoa Salad. As is the case with those salads, ingredients and quantities for this dish are pretty flexible—so feel free to adjust things to suit your own taste. For example, we used white beans in this salad, but garbanzo beans would make a great substitute. We offer more substitution ideas in the Notes.
This recipe makes 2 to 3 main-course servings (or 4 to 6 side servings). It’s easy to double the recipe.
Prep time for this salad is 10 minutes or so. You can serve the salad immediately (it’s good at room temperature) or let it chill for an hour or so.
Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days when stored in an airtight container. (They’re safe to eat after that, but the flavor—particularly the Swiss chard—deteriorates).
- 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained (Great Northern or cannellini are ideal; or use another bean of your choice—see Notes)
- 1 or 2 cans of tuna, preferably oil-packed (tuna tends to be sold in miserly 5-ounce cans these days, so use 2 cans if you want a substantial tuna component)
- 4 to 7 large leaves of Swiss chard (to taste; I usually just eyeball the Swiss chard, adding an amount that “looks right”)
- ~½ cup onion, diced or finely sliced (to taste; I prefer red onion, but almost any onion works; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, washed, dried, and minced (or to taste; may substitute another herb of your choice)
- extra virgin olive oil to taste (probably about ¼ cup, but see Step 5)
- red wine vinegar to taste (probably a couple of tablespoons, but see Step 6)
- salt to taste (for us, usually 2 or 3 pinches of kosher salt)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (for us, maybe ¼ teaspoon, or a bit less)
- a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes for garnish (optional, but flavorful and attractive)
- Rinse the white beans and allow them to drain. Then add the beans to a medium bowl.
- If you’re using oil-packed tuna, you can either drain it or just pour the contents of the can into the bowl with the beans. If you’re using water-packed tuna, you should definitely drain before adding it to the beans.
- Wash the Swiss chard and remove the ribs (discard them or save for another purpose). Chop the chard reasonably fine—the easiest way to do this is to roll the chard leaves into cylinders (like cigars) and then cut them into thin slices. Add the chopped chard to the bowl with the beans and tuna (adjust the quantity of chard so it looks “right” to you; you definitely want a lot of Swiss chard in this dish, but you don’t want it to overwhelm the beans and tuna).
- Peel the onion and cut it into ¼-inch dice or thin slices. Add the onion to the mixing bowl. Mince the dill (or other herb of your choice) and add it to the bowl.
- Toss all the ingredients together in the mixing bowl (I generally use my hands for this). Drizzle on some olive oil—a bit less than you think you’ll need. Toss again, then taste a bean to judge whether you’ve added sufficient oil; add more if necessary.
- Drizzle some vinegar onto the salad—again, use a bit less than you think you’ll need. Toss and taste, then add more vinegar if necessary.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Right before serving, prepare the garnish (if using). Wash and dry some cherry or grape tomatoes, then cut them into halves. You can sprinkle them on the salad as is, or add some seasoning. I often toss the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and minced dill before adding them to the salad (you can add vinegar too, but I find oil alone sufficient).
- White beans (Great Northern, cannellini, or navy beans) all work well in this salad (although I prefer the first two). Garbanzo beans or black-eyed peas also are quite good. Kidney beans would work too, though I like them a bit less in this dish.
- The recipe specifies canned beans because they’re easy to use and take less time than cooking your own dried beans. Plus (for us at least) they’re a pantry staple. But you can cook dried beans for this salad, if you wish; they’ll taste a bit better.
- Oil-packed tuna has better flavor than water packed, so that’s what we recommend using in this dish. We generally add the oil from the can to the salad—no need to drain since you’ll be adding more olive oil anyway. Of course, the quality of canning oil isn’t as good as extra virgin olive oil, so you many want to drain it off and use extra EVOO instead.
- Not in the mood for tuna? Canned salmon makes a nice substitute in this salad.
- No Swiss chard on hand? No problem. You can substitute spinach, or any dark green of your choice. If you’re using one of the “tougher” greens (like kale), just make sure to mince it finely.
- We prefer to use red onion in this salad because it looks great and has nice flavor. But yellow onions work too. If you find the flavor of onion too overpowering in salads, you can omit it or use something like a Vidalia onion (which has much less “bite”). You can also dilute the flavor by soaking the onion in cold water for 30 minutes before using it (drain and dry thoroughly before adding to the salad).
- Don’t have fresh dill? You can use basil instead. Or almost any fresh green herb.
- It’s easy to add/subtract ingredients in this salad to suit your preferences. Diced red bell peppers make a nice addition. So do drained canned pimentos. Pitted olives are another option. Or add a bit of thinly sliced celery or cucumber.
“The Swiss chard really adds some flavor to this dish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Yeah, our veggie garden has been producing great stuff this year,” I said.
“I see we have loads of green tomatoes coming along,” said Mrs K R.
“Let’s just hope we get to them before the squirrels do,” I said, harrumphing.
“They did a number on us last year, didn’t they?” said Mrs K R. “I hate it when the squirrels take one bite out of a tomato, then discard it.”
“Well, I’m gonna beat those squirrels this time!” I said, slapping the table.
“I see you’re taking no chances,” said Mrs K R. “Those protective cages you built for the raised beds look awesome.”
“You better believe it!” I said. “They’ve got super-sturdy frames made of heavy-duty PVC pipe. And they’re covered with tough plastic mesh. No way those rodents can get through. That’ll show ‘em!”
“Hope so,” said Mrs K R. “Though I did see a couple squirrels sitting on top of a cage the other day.”
“What?” I said, jumping from my chair. “I bet they were surveying our defenses. Plotting! They’re devious!”
“Hey, they’re only squirrels,” said Mrs K R in a soothing tone.
“And I’m a man!” I said, raising my fist to the sky. “With a big brain!”
“Absolutely,” said Mrs K R. “I’m sure you’ll outwit them.”
“I can play the long game,” I said, staring into the distance. “I understand strategy. I can plan a campaign. I know how to deceive the enemy!”
“Uh, right,” said Mrs K R.
“And I’ve honed my tactical abilities,” I said, narrowing my eyes. “I know every inch of our backyard terrain. I can use booby traps. Ambush. Flanking maneuvers.”
“Yeah . . . .,” said Mrs K R, clearing her throat.
“I have massive resources at my disposal too!” I said, pacing. “I’ve got a giant hardware chain behind me!”
“Plus, you’re a quick draw with the credit cards,” said Mrs K R. “Which makes the people at the hardware store very accommodating.”
“No retreat,” I said, planting my feet and pounding my palm. “I’m going to hit those squirrels with everything I’ve got this time. No holding back!”
“Indeed,” said Mrs K R. “Just glad the hardware guys don’t stock nuclear weapons.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
White Bean and Tuna Salad
Summer White Bean and Quinoa Salad
Tuna Pasta Salad
Edamame and Bean Salad
Salade Frisée aux Lardons
Summer Pasta Salad
Chicken, Lettuce, and Mayonnaise Salad
Roast Strawberry Salad
Or check out the index for more