How to Make a Bean Salad

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The original recipe for bean salad, also known as three-bean salad, was made with kidney, wax, and green beans tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. Although beans have been served as salads and side dishes since the 1800s, the traditional bean salad did not really get noticed until the 1950s. Other ingredients have been added over the years such as onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, and other types of beans.   

Today, there are hundreds of different recipes for various bean salads. If you consider that there are more than 400 different types of beans and you can mix them up in so many different ways, there are actually thousands of possibilities. From green bean casserole salad to Mexican bean salad, you have probably already had and made many of them. Try mixing up the different textures and adding other veggies and fresh herbs.


Fresh or canned beans

While fresh beans are great for some recipes, it just makes sense to use canned beans when it comes to making bean salad. There is just no reason why fresh would make a difference. Especially if you drain and rinse them so they do not have any preservatives or other additives they may have gotten from the canning process. Just like when making chili, I like to save time by using canned beans so I can spend my time doing more important things, like eating.


Best bean salad recipe

The best bean salad recipe depends on what you are making it for and what you like. For example, a cold three bean salad would be perfect for a summer barbecue while a hot bowl of Mexican bean salad with chips and salsa is perfect for game day. For something sweet and light, try black bean and strawberry salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. If you want a hearty meal, add various meats to your bean salad like grilled chicken or turkey, shrimp, or salmon.


Different kinds of bean salads

The most common and easy three-bean salad recipes are made with garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and cannellini beans with chopped celery, diced red onion, fresh parsley, and apple cider vinegar salad dressing. Mediterranean bean salad is another delicious recipe. It has garbanzo and cannellini beans, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, green bell peppers, olives, feta cheese, artichokes and basil. The Mediterranean bean salad dressing is usually made with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh herbs, and minced garlic.


How to serve bean salad

- Mexican bean salad with red kidney beans, lime juice, lemon juice, cilantro, and tortilla chips.

- Barbecued bean salad with wax beans, frozen corn, pinto beans, and tangy barbecue sauce.

- Couscous bean salad with cranberries, mandarin oranges, fresh dill, dried parsley, and lemon dressing.

- BLT bean salad with white beans, chickpeas, crispy bacon, and croutons.

- Lima bean salad soaked in chicken broth, garlic, and onions and drizzled with Dijon mustard.

- Butter bean salad with tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and olive oil.

- Sweet and tangy strawberry and green beans with garlic for extra flavor.


Frequently asked questions


What beans are best for bean salad?

Canned green beans (drained and rinsed), canned kidney beans (drained and rinsed), garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), and wax beans (drained and rinsed) are in the typical bean salad along with chopped celery, chopped onion, and chopped green and red bell pepper. But you can also use pinto beans, black beans, great northern beans, and cannellini beans. For a Mediterranean diet, use chickpeas, garbanzo beans, and cannellini beans.


Is bean salad healthy?

All the beans mentioned here are low in saturated fat and high in protein and vitamins. The nutrition, calories, and fat content vary depending on what salad dressing and other salad ingredients you use. You can just season your beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a really healthy dish that is gluten-free, low in calories, and high in flavor. Vitamin C is one of the main benefits of green beans while white beans are full of calcium, iron, and potassium.


How can I make my salad healthier?

Any kind of bean salad can be healthy if you do not drench it in high-fat salad dressings or mix it with a bunch of unhealthy cheeses. You can make a great salad from just beans, onions, peppers, and garlic with no saturated fat that also tastes delicious. However, go easy on the salt. The more salt you add, the higher the sodium will be, which can cause high blood pressure and heart disease.


Recipe tips and tricks

- Canned beans are perfect for this easy bean salad recipe.

- A large bowl of bean salad with added meat or other protein would make a great light meal or a hearty side dish.

- On the other hand, a small bowl of three-bean salad with kosher salt and black pepper for flavor is a good salad for any time.

- Be sure to check out our recipe card with our great recipe for Mexican salad.

- Even if the recipe says to serve immediately, the longer you let the flavors meld in the dressing ingredients, the more flavor your bean salad will have.

- Use a sharp chef’s knife when cutting your vegetables like peppers and celery for the best results.

- Some types of beans can be difficult to find. If you have a Whole Foods near you, they usually have a big selection.

- Prevent your screen from going dark. Instructions will stay visible when you set your device on cook mode.

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