Chifferi Elbow Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Tuna

Chifferi Elbow Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Tuna.

Recipes like this chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna are rarely served in restaurants or on special occasions here in Italy. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not delicious!  Quite the contrary! Pasta with beans and tuna is seriously yummy and perfect for weekday meals.

(click to go straight to recipe)

Chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna

Apart from pasta, there are two things you will nearly always find in an Italian larder; tinned tuna and some kind of dried or tinned beans. Both of these are used in pasta dishes, either together or separately with other ingredients. Many of these dishes are very traditional, some have been around for hundreds of years. But, whether old or contemporary, they are usually just simple family fare or made when there isn’t the time or inclination to go shopping.

Ingredients for chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna

The Tuna.

In Southern Italy, pasta with tuna often includes foods like olives, tomatoes and capers. In central Italy, beans are a staple and so a more popular addition to pasta recipes. Tuna preserved in olive oil is available everywhere in Itay. Italians say ‘tonno sott’olio’. In the past, Southern Italians who lived on the coast and on the islands preserved fresh tuna in olive oil themselves. They then used it during the winter or sold it inland or further north. Some still do this themselves even today. But, needless to say, tuna in olive oil is readily available in every supermarket.

onions, garlic and peperoncino in frying pan

Having said that, like every ingredient, quality is key to taste. Fortunately, good quality tuna in olive oil is easily available here in Italy.  When buying tuna in a tin or jar, do check the label. If it’s fished and canned in Italy then it’s likely to taste great!

tuna fillet, onions, garlic and peperoncino in frying pan

For this recipe I used tuna fillets, also in a jar but more expensive than the normal stuff. Definitely worth the extra euros in my opinion.

The Beans

Small, white and nutritious; cannellini beans are a variety of small beans, originating from central Italy, especially Tuscany. They grow inside a light green pod and are whitish with rounded ends. These beans are rich in protein and vitamins (especially group B), as well as carbohydrates and fiber. They also contain a good dose of lecithin, a substance that promotes the emulsion of fats, preventing their accumulation in the blood and therefore reducing the level of cholesterol.

tuna and cannellini bean sauce in frying pan

Cannellini are also a perfect summer food as they can be eaten cold and added to salads. In fact cannellini with tuna is a popular salad dish; with or without pasta!

Dried or canned beans?

I prefer to use dried beans and soak them overnight and then boil for about 90 minutes. This obviously makes this recipe rather time consuming. But, if you cook extra beans you can also use them in salads, soups or in a bean pate. Otherwise, to save time, tinned beans are okay.

cannellini beans and tuna sauce in frying pan

The Pasta.

The pasta I used for this recipe is called chifferi and was made by one of my favourite pasta companies La Molisana. The word chiffieri comes from the name of an Austrian crescent shaped biscuit called ‘kipferl’. However, this is in fact a type of elbow macaroni or gomiti pasta. There are many different names for elbow macaroni here in Italy, depending on the producer, the region and the market. Pasta for export may have a different name! If you don’t have some type of elbow macaroni, you can, of course use other short pasta for this recipe.

Chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna

Other ingredients.

Apart from the pasta, tuna and beans this chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna has only a few ingredients. I used a white onion, a little fresh peperoncino for a bit of a kick, 1 anchovy fillet, garlic, parsley, a bay leaf and tomato concentrate. The sauce needs to be cooked with some of the bean cooking water. So, if you use canned beans, then I would suggest adding some vegetable stock instead.

Chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna

This is a very nutritious dish which can also be eaten tepid, rather than hot. If you have never eaten pasta with beans and tuna, you are bound to be impressed with how flavourful this recipe is. On the other hand, if you have eaten it before, then you’ll understand why I’m so enthusiastic about it!

Chifferi elbow pasta with cannellini beans and tuna

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Buon Appetito!

(go to the next page to see recipe. Just scroll down and click 2)

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  • Avatar
    August 31, 2018 10:04 pm

    Oh WOW.. i just needed this recipe! I have a can if tuna and was thinking of what to make for dinner tonight! My family is going to to simply love this pasta!

  • Avatar
    Priya Shiva
    August 31, 2018 4:28 pm

    Such a healthy and flavorful pasta! I can dive in right now!

  • Avatar
    Claudia Lamascolo
    August 31, 2018 3:58 pm

    what a delicious combination. My mom always made tuna with tomato sauce with pasta the beans will be a perfect addition!

  • Avatar
    August 31, 2018 3:23 pm

    This looks so delicious! Lots of added protein from the beans, also a great way to stretch a buck!! Economical meal for everyday!

  • Avatar
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    August 31, 2018 2:39 pm

    This sounds like a really hearty, delicious meal — I always have canned tuna and beans in my pantry, so this sounds like a winner for me. Great for weeknights, too!

  • Avatar
    Lauren Vavala @ DeliciousLittleBites
    August 19, 2018 3:44 pm

    We don’t eat tuna that often – probably because I don’t do much with it except sandwiches! I’ll have to give this a try – my family will love the change!

  • Avatar
    Claudia Lamascolo
    August 19, 2018 2:44 pm

    you actually brought me back years when my mom made this as a child. I love tuna and beans with pasta. I havent made it in year and now I will thank you

  • Avatar
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    August 19, 2018 11:32 am

    Such a tasty looking pasta dish! I love tuna with my pasta so this sounds like a dish for me.

  • Avatar
    August 19, 2018 8:50 am

    I love bean and tuna pasta. It’s the perfect summery comfort food.

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