Once you try three bean salad the Mediterranean way, you will not go back! This bean salad is so bright and packs tons of flavor from crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, capers, and a zesty garlic Dijon vinaigrette.
I am a big fan of beans. A staple of the Mediterranean pantry, beans are a healthy, versatile and a super affordable ingredient. They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins, iron...plus, they're a hearty great alternative to high-fat proteins.
If you're looking to incorporate more beans in your diet, one good way to do this is three bean salad.
Three bean salad is like the quintessential American picnic or potluck dish, and there are so many great variations of it out there. But, I'll bet you will fall in love with this bright and fresh Mediterranean twist!
What kind of beans go into a three bean salad?
If we're talking about a traditional American 3 bean salad here, you'll typically see these three
- Canned green beans
- Kidney Beans or black beans
- Garbanzo, also known as chickpeas
I've not been much a fan of canned green beans; they just feel too mushy for my taste. Instead, I opted for cannellini beans, I like their creamy texture, and I think they work really well here next to the kidney beans and garbanzo.
That said, a good option would be to use steamed green beans. They'll just lend a far better texture here than canned green beans.
Tip: How to Steam Green Beans. You can steam fresh green beans right in your microwave. Wash and trim the beans, place them in a bowl, then cover with a wet paper towel and microwave for a few minutes (½ pound typically takes about 5 minutes or so.)
Mediterranean-Style Bean Salad Recipe
This bean salad starts with three humble cans of beans: garbanzo, kidney beans, and cannellini beans. Occasionally, I'll switch out the cannellini beans for steamed green beans.
In my opinion, to build this 3 bean salad into a huge, "sexy" bowl of goodness, the Mediterranean way, of course, we need crunch and bright flavors.
That's where colorful bell peppers, cucumbers, and red onions come in, adding that needed crunch.
And, for more flavor, tangy capers and fresh herbs--parsley, mint, and basil!
The dressing? I don't love the syrupy dressings that are typical of three bean salads, so I whipped up a quick garlic Dijon vinaigrette with just a hint of sweet. This bright vinaigrette definitely pulls everything together!
Are mixed beans good for you?
I mentioned this earlier...Beans, or legumes in general, are one of the essential foods when eating the Mediterranean way. They are a great source of fiber, plant-based protein, B vitamins. They're satisfying and can have some positive impact on regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. That's why experts recommend up to 3 cups of beans weekly!
Beans get a bad rap for making people gassy; that's why many avoid eating beans regularly. But if you eat them more consistently, you will have less tummy trouble (chat with your doctor if this is a big issue for you though).
How do you make a three bean salad from scratch?
This bean salad couldn't be any easier to make. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3:
- Combine 3 cans of beans with fresh veggies and herbs in one large bowl. I used a 15 ounce can of each gazpacho beans, red kidney beans, and white beans (drained and rinsed). For crunch, I added chopped bell peppers, English cucumber, and red onions. Parsley, mint and basil for bold, herby flavors. Briny capers are optional, but I think they add a little something special.
- Make the vinaigrette. Simply whisk together Dijon mustard, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic and a dash of sugar, salt and pepper.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix. Make sure all the beans and veggies are well-coated in the vinaigrette.
That's it! But I do have a couple of tips for best results...
Two tips for the best bean salad
1- Rinse and drain beans before using. Canned beans release starch into the canning liquid, making it murky. The canning liquid is not necessarily bad for you, but just doesn't look that great. What i like to do is drain the beans, then rinse well, and drain again before using.
2-Make this 3 bean salad ahead and refrigerate. Beans need a little time to soak up flavor, so it's a good idea to make this salad ahead and refrigerate for 30 minutes to several hours. If you want to make this a day ahead, you can hold the fresh herbs and add them in 30 minutes or so before serving, this will just keep them from wilting too much into the salad (more for looks.)
How Long Does 3 Bean Salad Keep?
Properly refrigerated in a tight-lid glass container, three bean salad will keep anywhere from 3 to 5 days.
More Recipes to Try:
Fresh Mediterranean Bean Salad
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 15- oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1 15- oz can garbanzo beans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 green bell pepper cored and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
- ½ English cucumber diced
- 1 cup chopped red onions
- 1 ½ tbsp capers
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 10-15 fresh mint leaves torn or gently chopped
- 10-15 fresh basil leaves torn or gently chopped
Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, chopped peppers, onions, capers and fresh herbs. Mix using a wooden spoon.
- In a small bowl, add the vinaigrette ingredients. Whisk vigorously to combine.
- Add the vinaigrette to the salad bowl. Toss to coat.
- For best results, cover and refrigerate for a bit before serving so that beans soak up the vinaigrette flavors. Give the salad another quick toss before serving.
- Cook's Tip: Rinse and drain beans before using. Canned beans release starch into the canning liquid, making it murky. The canning liquid is not necessarily bad for you, but just doesn't look that great. What i like to do is drain the beans, then rinse well, and drain again before using.
- Cook's Tip: Make this 3 bean salad a little bit ahead and refrigerate. Beans need a little time to soak up flavor, so it's a good idea to make this salad ahead and refrigerate for 30 minutes to several hours. If you want to make this a day ahead, you can hold the fresh herbs and add them in 30 minutes or so before serving, this will just keep them from wilting too much into the salad (more for looks.)
- Meal-Prep: If you want to make this salad to have for lunch over the next few days, you can hold the dressing and add it as needed a few minutes before enjoying your lunch.
- Recommended for this Recipe Our Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil.
- Visit our store to browse our olive oils, all-natural and organic spice, and more!
*This article first appeared on this site in 2017 and has recently been updated with new information and new media for readers' benefit