This easy three bean salad is a simple, healthy classic you can make in 5 minutes. It's high in plant protein and fiber and it takes no time to make using canned beans. Dress with a quick French vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Enjoy on its own as a side salad or as part of a tossed green salad. Perfect for summer picnics, potlucks and parties.
Over holiday vacation I was reminded how good this simple salad is. We spent Christmas in Big Sur, one of the most spectacular destinations along the California coast. Our favorite lunch spot is Nepenthe. This destination restaurant offers casual fare including their famous Ambrosia Burger, sandwiches, salads and soup of the day. Alongside, you choose coleslaw or their cold bean salad. I knew I had to make it at home.
What Kind of Beans?
For my three bean salad recipe I use red kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and green beans. To make this a kidney bean salad, swap white kidney beans (cannellini beans) for the garbanzo beans.
For green beans, I use the tender, skinny, French green beans called Haricot Vert. If you can't get them, use regular fresh green beans. If fresh are not available, use frozen whole green beans, thaw, cook and chop.
To cook fresh green beans, drop them into boiling salted water until tender (5 minutes for the haricot vert) then shock in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and keep the beans a nice bright green color. Drain, dry and chop finely.
How to a Make French Vinaigrette
Making homemade vinaigrette is easy and skips the additives you don't want from a bottle. Add extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar a little Dijon mustard plus a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to a jar and shake until smooth. This is a good basic dressing for many salads, so make extra to use during the week.
The Trick to Adding Garlic
For a little more flavor add a finely chopped garlic clove. But nothing is more unpleasant than biting into raw garlic. The trick is after finely chopping the garlic, turn your knife flat against the cutting board and smear it into a paste, then add to the dressing.
Ways to Enjoy
Three bean salad is good alongside a cup of soup, as a side to many dishes and over fresh salad greens as an entree salad. To prep it ahead, add about ¾ of a cup of the bean salad to the bottom of a large glass jar or other container. Top with chopped tomatoes and stuff full of salad greens. Pack extra vinaigrette for the greens separately so they stay crisp.
Good additions are pitted black kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese (if you enjoy dairy), chopped bell pepper, chopped celery or a little finely chopped red onion or shallot. Chopped fresh herbs are good too. For more protein, add chopped leftover roast chicken.
Three Bean Salad
Three Bean Salad
- 4 ounces fresh green beans I prefer the baby French green beans
- 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
- ½ cup extra virgin olive
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 2 pinches sea salt
- 2 pinches ground black pepper
- Set up an ice bath by filling a medium bowl half full of ice and cold water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and green beans. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain beans and immediately place them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process and keep them bright green. Chill until cold, about 5 minutes, then drain and dry. Dump the ice water, dry the bowl. Chop the green beans and add to the bowl. Add the kidney and garbanzo beans. Stir gently.
- Add oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic salt and pepper to a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well until smooth and blended. To dress the salad, add 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss gently. Add more if desired. Serve room temperature or chilled.