This past weekend I had brunch at a little French café not far from home. Being that it was so hot outside, I was looking forward to ordering something light and refreshing. Boy was I happy to find a delicious white bean salad on the menu! It was a perfect blend of Tuscan-style white beans, arugula, minced fresh veggies, Parmesan cheese, just a wee bit of prosciutto and basil croutons. What more could I ask for on a summer’s day?
Beans (also called legumes) are an excellent source of plant protein and dietary fiber. They are forever flavorful, naturally nutritious, inescapably inexpensive and verily versatile. While cooking a pot of beans can be very rewarding, relying on canned, preservative-free beans provides no-need-to-cook protein that helps you beat the summer heat and eat lighter, with less meat and heavy foods. Delicious as a main dish or as a side; for lunch, dinner, potluck, picnic or party, bean salads add great taste, simplicity and variety to any occasion.
From basic to bountiful, you can create a bean salad to please every palate. Begin with your choice of cooked beans. Remember to have fun and mix and match. Choose one, two or several varieties. Just open the can, drain and rinse before using. Next, add your favorite cooked and raw veggies. Finally, add a salad dressing — creamy, light, whatever suits you. To spruce it up, add whole grains, pasta, olives, chili peppers, fresh herbs, prepared grilled veggies and some unusual ingredients such as fennel, Daikon or red radish, radicchio and jicama.
Here are some basic and bountiful bean salad ideas you’ll definitely appreciate:
- This quick video shows how easy bean salads can be: Let’s Cook Tangy Bean Salad.
- Add cheese or non-dairy cheese to your bean salad. This Three-Bean Salad with Gouda is really good!
- Fruit is great with bean salad. Think: peaches, nectarines, grapes, plums and cherries. You will cherish this Cherry Lentil Salad.
- Garbanzo beans are fabulous for salads, especially this Mediterranean Crunch Salad.
- Add grains and pasta to build a hearty salad. For fun, focus on a theme. This Southwestern Couscous Salad does just that and so does this Black-Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing.
- White beans complement leafy greens with color and flavor. I love this White Bean and Spinach Salad.
- Quinoa adds additional protein, fiber and flavor to this Three-Bean Salad with Quinoa.
- A main-meal salad should be big and beautiful, just like this garbanzo-laden Big Beautiful Salad with Lemon-Miso Dressing.
- Green beans are beans too, so let’s celebrate with this Green Bean Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing.
- If you love cucumbers and tomatoes, this Pinto Bean Salad will hit the spot.
- What’s August without fresh corn? Thankfully, there’s this Sweet Corn and Black Bean Salad.
Are you big on bean salads? Got a recipe? I’d love to hear!