We all have kitchen standbys: recipes we’ve cooked a hundred times and can throw together without thinking. Standbys are delicious and turn out well even when we’re tired or inattentive.
One of my standbys is white beans, baked with olive oil, garlic, sage, tuna, and lemon juice. I’ve never been disappointed by baked tuna and beans, and rely on it when refrigerator shelves are bare. It is made entirely with pantry staples and takes 10 minutes to put together and less than an hour to bake.
I usually make Baked White Beans with Tuna and Sage using canned cannellini beans, but have also made it with Great Northern or navy beans. For tuna, I prefer canned albacore packed in water, but any kind of tuna will do. The only ingredients I use each and every time are fresh lemons and fresh garlic; their bright flavors are necessary to the recipe’s success.
During winters past, I’ve relied on dried rubbed sage to enhance the tuna and beans, but this year we brought sage in from the garden. It’s growing in the bedroom along with parsley, rosemary, thyme, and the geraniums that have been blooming since late May.
When people hear we live in Alaska, they want to know how we survive the cold. For me, the cold is a minor inconvenience; short winter days and too much darkness take more of a toll.
To combat winter blues, I moved live herbs and flowers into the bedroom. They reside on stainless shelves, with grow lights on a timer set for 6:30 in the morning. I wake up to bright lights and green plants, starting my day in a better mood than when I used to wake in a pitch black room. The bonus is having fresh herbs for cooking. It’s well worth the extra electricity.
Baked White Beans with Tuna and Sage (Φασόλια με Τόννο και Φασκόμηλο)
Serves 3 – 4
2 15.5-ounce cans cannellini or other white beans
2 6-ounce cans albacore or other tuna
2/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 - 4 Tbsp. minced fresh sage, or 1 – 2 Tbsp. dried rubbed sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Drain the beans into a strainer and rinse them well. Drain any oil or water from the tuna.
In a 10” x 10” glass baking pan, mix the beans, olive oil, garlic, half the sage, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the pan with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans from the oven.
Stir the tuna, lemon juice, and remaining sage into the hot beans; break the tuna into bite-sized pieces as you stir. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Taste, and add sage, lemon juice, salt, or freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Bake for 5 more minutes.
Serve with olives, feta cheese, pickled peppers, and crusty bread.