Ever since I can remember, family members have been making three bean salads for get-togethers and outings. Perfect for potlucks and picnics, or to have on hand when company comes to stay, they actually get better the longer they marinate, making them the ultimate do-ahead dish. While I named this recipe for my Grandmother, as I have fond memories of huge mason jars of three bean salads in her fridge, it is more of an adaptation of several family recipes- and adding a little zest of my own!
Setting out to update this recipe, I needed to ditch the copious amount of white sugar, and flavorless “salad oil”, which is generally called for in classic bean salads. I replaced those with a modest amount of honey- just to help amplify the tart vinegar and fresh herbs- and swapped in good-for-you olive oil. Fresh garlic is not typical, but I added it as it gives it a depth of flavor otherwise lacking.
While canned chickpeas and kidney beans have great texture and are a good short-cut to cooking your own dried beans, canned green beans are often mushy and I don’t find them to have excellent flavor. Thus, I call for fresh green beans here, which are in season now and will liven up your salad with a great crunch and freshness.
You can feel good about eating this side dish with its heart-healthy beans and other wholesome ingredients. So fresh and so delicious, I know Grandma would have been proud!
Betty’s Three Bean Salad
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 pound fresh green beans trimmed
- 1 large celery stick diced
- ½ small white onion diced
- 1 small bell pepper any color, diced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
For the dressing:
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ lemon
- ½ cup cider vinegar or use red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey you can use more if you like your bean salad on the sweet side
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup mild olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- Plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
- Optional crumbled feta
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with a pinch of salt, and cook the green beans at a fast simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans under cold water, then cut into bite sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine the green beans and all of the remaining ingredients for the salad.
- Use a microplane to zest the ½ lemon and place the zest in a small bowl or jar. Using the same microplane, grate the garlic clove into the same bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over top, discarding any seeds. Add the remaining ingredients, (except the feta), and stir with a whisk or fork to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the beans and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to a day before serving. If using the feta, toss in ¼ to ½ a cup depending on your taste, just before serving.