Whether canned or dried, beans are handy to have in your pantry and you can use either for this easy summer white bean salad. Canned beans make it fast, but dried beans are wonderful if you've never tried them. With fresh lemon, herbs, garlic and shallot, add summer white bean salad to fresh greens or enjoy along side a burger. There are many ways to enjoy it.
While canned beans are good when you are short on time, nothing can beat a dish started with dried beans.
Soaked overnight and cooked slowly the next day, great are the rewards in flavor for healthy dishes like this simple summer white bean salad. Add a generous amount of fresh chopped herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon and you have a tasty side dish for grilled chicken, shrimp, pork or beef.
I add crumbled Greek feta cheese, but skip it for dairy-free or vegan diners. Crumbled goat cheese works too.
Rancho Gordo Beans
Discovering Rancho Gordo got me cooking with dried beans versus always reaching for canned. Based in Napa, California, they bring high quality heirloom dried beans to market. Beans that are grown in limited quantities and have better flavor and texture than your generic super market dried beans. And their beans that are fresh.
Once I tried Rancho Gordo bean varieties, dried beans became a constant in my pantry.
Choosing Dried Beans
White, creamy-tender pillows, the Marcella bean is a thin-skinned cannellini bean named after the famed Italian chef, Marcella Hazan. They work great in this salad but so will dried cannellinis or other white beans.
Cannellini beans are very versatile. I use them in soups, salads, stews and side dishes like this summer white bean salad with delicious results.
Cannellini beans are good for you too, and an inexpensive source of protein. Just a half of a cup provides 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Dried beans triple in volume, so ½ a pound of dried beans will yield about 3 cups of beans when cooked. A full pound cooks up to about 6 cups.
Soak Beans at Bedtime, Cook the Next Day
Start the beans soaking before you go to bed. The next day, cook them and finish the salad. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lots of fresh herbs and a little olive oil.
For Canned Beans
To speed things up, use three cans of white beans - cannellini, great northern or navy. Rinse and drain, add to a bowl, stir in vinaigrette, herbs and chopped raw veggies.
Summer White Bean Salad
- ½ pound dried Cannellini or Marcella beans or 3 cans of white beans, see note at end
- 6-8 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 large dried bay leaf
- Kosher or sea salt and black pepper as needed
- 3-4 ounces crumbled Greek feta or goat cheese optional
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or chives
- 2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1-2 tablespoon freshly chopped herbs oregano, dill, mint, or rosemary
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice add zest for more lemon flavor
- 1-2 large garlic cloves very finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Soak Beans Overnight
- Begin by soaking beans overnight. Pick through the beans for any broken pieces or debris and discard. Choose a container large enough to hold beans and water to cover by about three inches. Beans expand while soaking. Cover and refrigerate overnight. If using canned beans, rinse and drain beans in a colander or sieve and see notes below for finishing.
Drain and Cook Beans
- In the morning, drain soaking water from beans. To cook beans, warm 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot. I use a 5 ½ quart Dutch oven. Turn heat down a little and add celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the pot and cook until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Turn down the heat if necessary.
- Add fresh water to cover beans by a about 2 inches. Add the bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Cover the beans and simmer gently for approximately 2-3 hours. Timing varies with the freshness of the beans. Check the beans occasionally to make sure they are covered by water. If water is low, add a little from a hot tea kettle. Beans are done when they are soft and tender to the bite. When beans are almost there, add salt and pepper to season. When beans are done, gently strain off the water and allow the beans to cool. Beans can be refrigerated covered at this point for a day or two, or continue with the recipe.
Finish the White Bean Salad
- To finish the salad, make the vinaigrette dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the oil. lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the beans and mix gently. Add the herbs and feta. At serving time, taste the beans and add additional salt and pepper if needed, then drizzle with a little extra good olive oil if desired. Fresh lemon zest is a nice garnish too.
Peter Piper says
If you have not made dips and sauces with cannellini beans, you are missing out on a world of delicious flavor! Hummus made form cannellini beans instead of garbanzo beans is magnificent! All sorts of "cream" sauces can be made with cannellinis as well. Research the internet for fabulous recipes using white beans of any kind.
Sally Cameron says
Hi Linda, yes I've done that, love cannellini beans in dips, soups, salads and many dishes.
I cannot find cannellini beans at that rancho Gordo. How do you order them from there if they are not listed? Please put beans in the subject line. This sounds delicious. I love cannellini and all white beans..
Hi Linda. They run out from time to time. I think they have recently brought in a new harvest. They may not be available yet. Email or call them for the new availability. And I'd stock up. They are wonderful!
Ah! I checked in too late! I pulled out a container of cranberry beans last night and soaked them, no knowing what I was going to do with them.
I boiled them up this morning and thew in a jalapeño and diced onion. Just a little while ago I pulled out a bag of leftover San Marzano tomatoes and some chicken sausage and made some kind of bean dish. I figured it would be a good dinner before my weekly weigh-in, but now that I see your recipe I'd much rather have this light and bright salad!
Well, I've got more beans in the pantry. 😉
This was DELICIOUS!! I had to make a few alterations based what I had on hand (no celery so just celery seed, and allergic to regular onions so I used green onions including part of the tops). I LOVED it, my husband did too. We are thinking of also using the dressing as just a regular salad dressing too. I also did cut down on the olive oil b/c I like my dressings closer to half and half or they are too oily to me.
Thanks for the recipe, it is officially a new favorite!
Debbie Spangler says
I love summer (and winter) bean salads and will add your version to my client menus. I love the idea of topping with shrimp 🙂
Dr. Patrick Mahaney says
This looks like an enhanced (i.e. much better) version of what I have made in the past as an "easy" summer salad. I can't wait to try it and will let you know how it turns out for me (and Phil).