Milan's finest spills the beans on Nonna's cooking

Luca Ciano's tuna and borlotti bean salad recipe

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Milan-born chef Luca Ciano is sharing his family's recipes in his latest cookbook.

Milan-born chef Luca Ciano is sharing his family's recipes in his latest cookbook.


Luca Ciano shares his family recipes, including this simple tuna and bean salad.


Milanese expat Luca Ciano - like many Italian chefs - owes much of his success in the kitchen to his mum and grandma.

His food journey has taken him from his native Italy to live and work around the world. But the Sydney-based chef says his earliest memories of cooking was as a young boy with his Nonna Domenica.

Now Luca - who has enjoyed huge success in commercial kitchens, including those at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan and London's Millennium Gloucester Hotel - is sharing his own favourite recipes in his new book Luca's Culinary Journey.

In the book there are delicious recipes including quick and easy-to-prepare dishes using his own product range, as well as the traditional northern Italian family specialties of his mother and grandmother, such as gnocchi, risotto, polenta and ragu.

Known around the world as a true 'pasta master' he has won many awards and also developed the Casa Barilla global cooking school.

Here he shares his family's recipe for insalata di tonno e fagioli - borlotti bean salad with tuna and onion. You can use dried beans, or a can of tinned beans from the pantry will also work well.

Insalata di Tonno e Fagioli

Serves 4 or 5. Preparation time 20 minutes plus 20 minutes resting time. Cooking time (if using fresh borlotti beans, 6 hours soaking followed by 40 minutes cooking).


  • 250g dried borlotti beans or 400g tinned borlotti beans
  • 1 onion, chopped to taste
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised or slightly crushed
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 185g can of the best quality tuna in olive oil you can get, drained
  • 1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced, or in rounds
  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Oiled oregano leaves to garnish
  • 6 slices lightly toasted bread, for serving


  1. If using dried beans, place beans in a large bowl, cover with water and soak for 6 hours, or overnight. Drain beans and rinse well.
  2. Place in a large saucepan and add onion, celery, carrot, garlic,rosemary and bay leaf. Cover with water and bring to the boil on a high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 40-45 minutes, until beans are tender.
  4. Drain, discarding vegetables and herbs.
  5. f you're using canned beans, drain and rinse under water.
  6. Place beans in a bowl.
  7. Add tuna, red onion and oil.
  8. Season and toss to combine. Let stand for 10-20 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse.
  9. Scatter oregano over the top and serve with toasted bread slices.

Luca's Culinary Journey, Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking by Luca Ciano (New Holland Publishers), RRP $49.99 from all good book retailers or