5-Minute Lunch: The Tastiest, Easiest, Healthiest Bean Salad on the Planet

by | Feb 22, 2012
Heirloom Bean Salad

Heirloom Bean Salad

This is a recipe that I rely on often, particularly when I’m short on time but don’t want to eat something unhealthy. As I’ve mentioned like a zillion times during my show, I think beans are one of the absolute best go-to foods when you want something tasty and satisfying.

Don’t worry, this is not one of those nasty 3 bean salads your well-meaning aunt brings to barbecues. When you start with good quality, dry beans they bring an amazingly creamy texture to a dish and are absolutely delicious. And if you prepare them properly by soaking them for a few hours beforehand, you also won’t get any of the digestive issues most of us associate with canned beans.

On that note, the title isn’t quite accurate. It assumes that, like me, you’ve spent a bit of time early in the week making a big batch of beans to add to the meals you make through Friday. That said, preparing the beans only takes 2-3 extra minutes of prep time, but there are a couple hours of waiting between the essential steps. If you use a pressure cooker it is even faster.

In a pinch, feel free to substitute lentils, which can be used similarly but cook up in only 20-30 minutes, depending on the size.

Today I made this recipe using only ingredients I already had in my fridge. I did this intentionally to show you how easy and versatile it is. But feel free to substitute any of the vegetables with ones you have or like better. It doesn’t matter which beans you use either, a simple black bean is also very lovely if you can’t find fancy heirloom beans.

This dish turns out different every time I make it, depending on what I have in the house, my mood and, of course, the season. In the summer, for example, I tend to use cucumber, French radish and a handful of arugula. Also feel free to experiment with different oils, vinegars, citrus, herbs, salts and spices (smoked paprika is a great addition).

I use this dish most often for a light lunch or substantial snack. It can be served warm or cold, or can be made into a full meal by adding a fried egg on top (or other protein) with a side of greens. This recipe is for a single serving, but it scales easily.

Heirloom Bean Salad With Winter Vegetables

Serves 1


  • 3/4 cup cooked Rancho Gordo Pinquito beans
  • 2 small carrots or 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced lo bok or daikon
  • 1/2 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly diced parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or nut oil
  • 2 tsp rice or red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

If your beans aren’t already cooked, soak them overnight or at least 6 hours. Discard the soaking liquid, rinse several times then cook in beef, mushroom or vegetable stock until tender.

Place appropriate amount of beans in a bowl and add sliced vegetables, green onion and parsley. I tend to go heavy handed on the herbs because they add such a wonderful freshness, but feel free to experiment with the amount you like.

You’re welcome to mix the vinaigrette beforehand, but if you’re lazy like me feel free to just add oil and vinegar directly to the bowl, along with some salt and pepper and any other spices you choose.

Gently stir with a spoon, taking care not to damage the beans. Adjust salt and pepper and enjoy.

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11 Responses to “5-Minute Lunch: The Tastiest, Easiest, Healthiest Bean Salad on the Planet”

  1. Nicole B. says:

    Being a vegetarian I ate A LOT of beans. Unfortunately they’re usually the canned kind. My problem is, I’m terrible at planning ahead. I’ve thought about cooking them ahead of time and using them throughout the week. The problem is I forgot that I’ve made plans to do this or that and my poor, lonely beans sit in the fridge at home and eventually just get thrown away.

    So my question is, can I make up a batch of beans and then freeze them in individual portions? I’ve experimented with this for rice, but never with beans!

    • Nicole B. says:

      “Being a vegetarian, I eat a lot of beans. Darn spelling errors, I hate them!

    • Darya Pino says:

      You can freeze them in smaller portions for sure. I’ve tried it several ways and I recommend using tupper and freezing them in their cooking liquid, then thawing them accordingly. Honestly I think it’s easier to just remember to put them in a bowl sunday night. I leave them on the counter with a plate over it, then they’re sitting there reminding me to cook them. Alternatively you can soak them in the morning before work, they’ll be ready to cook when you get home.

    • Lazyretirementgirl says:

      A few easy ways to have beans at the ready. First, they freeze fine after they have been cooked. I put them in single serve portions in ziplocks with the air squeezed out. Second, the pressure cooker is magic. No need to soak and they are generally done in half an hour, even at 6700 feet where I live. Third, the crock pot is your friend. Soak all day and crock on low overnight, or soak all night and crock all day on low, or if you are home, for four hours on high. It is so nice to have them handy.

  2. Love the recipe. I love beans, especially heirloom, and I get excited to soak them overnight to see how big they are the next morning. Bean soup is our number one favorite soup, and we do many varieties. I like this salad and am glad you mentioned it is not the three-bean salad of yesteryear which I hated.

  3. Carla says:

    I love bean salads and make them often. I will now add you recipe to my collection. I can’t wait to give this a try.

  4. Mike says:

    Wow, thanks for the ideas. Last night I combined garbonzo, black, & red beans with red onion, vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt and four cloves of minced garlic. To add the heat I finely chopper up four jalepenos and added them to the mix. I had bok choy in the frog but never imagined adding it to the mix!
    The resulting mixture was so spicy I had to put it on top of garlic spaghetti 🙂

  5. David says:

    Cans aren’t so bad, if you remember that the soaking liquid is what contains to gas producing component, and the beans have been pressure cooked in the can. Simply rinse your newly released beans once or twice. Cheers 🙂

  6. Canuckette says:

    I’ve been making variations of this recipe for a while now. I like to add cooked spelt berries or other grains for carbs. Grated parmesan or nutritional yeast are great, as are fresh dill and cilantro. Any fresh salad greens work too. I also like to add a bit of ground coriander seed and cayenne pepper, with a generous amount of cumin. I sometimes use tamari instead of the vinegar. It’s always a joy to eat, and so easy to prepare. Mmmm!

  7. squish says:

    so everytime i have tried to use dried beans, even with the soaking and then the cooking next day, they never get soft. im just not sure what im doing wrong.

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