Summery Bean Salads

In addition to being nutritious, inexpensive and versatile, beans provide a perfect canvas for quick, beat-the-heat summer meals. Try these summer bean salad recipes.

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:

Are you big on bean salads? Got a recipe? I’d love to hear!

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