Summer White Bean Salad

By Sally Cameron on June 06, 2011

beans, legumes & grains, Salads and Dressings, Side Dishes, the daniel plan, vegan, vegetarian,


white bean salad |

Whether canned or dried, beans are the backbone of any strong pantry. Strong, like silent soldiers, waiting to leap into action to help you create a meal. With a strong pantry you will never go hungry, even when you are too tired to go to the grocery store.

Canned Beans vs. Dried

While canned beans are good for certain recipes or 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 white bean salad. Add a generous amount of fresh chopped herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil and you have a satisfying side dish for grilled chicken, shrimp, pork or beef.

Rancho Gordo Beans

It wasn’t until I discovered Rancho Gordo that I really began to cook with dried beans.

Based in Napa, California, Rancho Gordo brings high quality heirloom dried beans to market. Beans that are grown in limited quantities. Beans that have better flavor and texture than your generic super market dried beans. Beans that are fresh. Once I tried their bean varieties, dried beans became a constant in my pantry. My favorite and the one I can’t live without? Cannellini beans.

Cannellini Beans

Big, white, creamy-tender pillows, Cannellini beans  (white kidney beans) are very versatile. I use them in soups, salads, stews and side dishes with wonderful results. Cannellini beans are good for you and an inexpensive source of protein. If you are vegetarian or vegan, these beans are your “meat”.

Soak Beans at Bedtime, Cook the Next Day

For this white bean salad, 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. Sometimes I add crumbled feta cheese or Parmesan.

Serving Ideas

Sometimes I serve them as a side dish. Sometimes I just have a small bowl as a healthy afternoon snack. For dinner, I’ll top with my beans with grilled chicken or shrimp. Cannellini beans are incredibly versatile.

Once you understand the simplicity of cooking dried beans, they will become a canvas for many wonderful dishes in your kitchen. Make them what you want.

SHORT CUT NOTE – to short cut this recipe when you just don’t have time to start with dried beans, use 3 – 15 ounces (425 gram) cans of organic Cannellini beans. Rinse and drain first, then use.

Other Helpful Links

These beans go great with Grilled Lemon Mint Chicken

Fold in some Roast Baby Tomatoes with Thyme for wonderful flavor and color

Cannellini bean recipes, from Simply Recipes

Crockpot Recipe for Cannellini Bean Stew with Parmesan, from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Simple instructions for preparing beans, by Rancho Gordo



white bean salad |
Print Recipe

Summer White Bean Salad

Don’t be daunted by the length of this recipe. It’s really easy. It just takes a little time and thinking ahead. While I’ve made this salad with canned beans, it’s best starting with good quality dried Cannellini beans. I order mine from Rancho Gordo in Napa, California. Soak your beans overnight and cook them the next day, or even a day ahead. This salad works beautifully served at room temperature or chilled, great for summer dinners and picnics. Add any herbs that please you – rosemary, mint, basil, oregano, chives. Crumbled feta and shaved Parmesan cheese work nice too. To use canned beans, buy 3-15 ounce (425 gram) cans organic Cannellini beans, rinse, drain and continue with the vinaigrette to finish  


  • Beans if using dried
  • 1 pound dried Cannellini beans 454 grams
  • 7-8 cups of filtered water 2L
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 30ml
  • ½ cup diced celery 72 grams, chopped small
  • ½ cup diced carrot 72 grams, chopped small
  • 1 cup diced onion 144 grams, chopped small
  • 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 large dried bay leaf
  • Kosher or sea salt and black pepper as needed
  • Vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice 15 ml
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 45ml
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves minced, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 3 grams
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 1 gram
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 generous tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley Italian
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1 -2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • Additional good quality extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over salad at serving


  1. Soak Beans Over Night (if starting with dried beans)
  2. Pick through the beans for any broken pieces or debris and discard. Place beans in a large enough container to hold both the beans and water. I use an 8 cup (2 quart/2 L) measuring container. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Cook Beans (day of or a day ahead)
  4. When you are ready to cook your beans, warm 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot. I use a 5 ½ quart Le Creuset Dutch oven (2-3L), sometimes called a French oven. Add celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the pot and cook until vegetables are softened, turning down the heat if necessary. You want to “sweat” the vegetables, which is cooking them slowly without getting any color on them.
  5. When vegetables are soft, pour in your beans and water and 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. Last time I made them mine took 2 hours, but timing can vary. Check the beans occasionally to make sure they are covered by water. Beans are done when they are soft and tender to the bite. When beans are almost there, add salt and pepper to season.
  6.  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.
  7. Finish the White Bean Salad
  8. Start by making the vinaigrette dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs. Pour dressing over the beans and mix gently so you don’t break up the beans. At serving time, taste the beans and add additional salt and pepper if needed, then drizzle with good olive oil.
  9.  At serving time, taste the beans and add additional salt and pepper if needed, then drizzle with good olive oil.
  10. Notes on additions:
  11. This is a versatile recipe. Make it your own by adding halved grapeseed tomatoes (fresh, roasted or sun-dried), feta or Parmesan cheese, or other herbs. Mint is terrific. Thinly sliced shallots are a good addition too.


Leave a Comment
Dr. Patrick Mahaney | 06/07/2011 at 2:35 pm

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).

Debbie Spangler | 06/07/2011 at 3:15 pm

I love summer (and winter) bean salads and will add your version to my client menus. I love the idea of topping with shrimp 🙂

Sarah | 07/05/2011 at 2:04 am

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!

Fran | 08/06/2011 at 8:10 pm

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. 😉

linda | 11/05/2011 at 5:14 pm

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..

    Sally | 11/05/2011 at 6:29 pm

    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!

Peter Piper | 01/19/2017 at 7:42 am

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 | 01/21/2017 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Linda, yes I’ve done that, love cannellini beans in dips, soups, salads and many dishes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *