I never tire of beans. I eat them every day, and continue to find ways to love them! Nature has given us different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures to enjoy -from a tender scarlet kidney bean to harder, creamy-colored chickpeas to delicate, tiny pink lentils. To top that, they are packed with nutrition, and offer much cooking versatility – from dressings to spreads to sauces to burgers to casseroles – and more!
I really enjoy taking a humble bean and transforming it into an unexpectedly delicious plant-powered burger, dip, or stew, adding layers of flavors from spices and herbs, and sometimes combining nuts or grains. Yet sometimes, we want simplicity. Either we don’t have much time, or we are pooped on our feet and want a quick fix! That was me this weekend, by the way. And, so I made this salad – just for me. Not that I wouldn’t share it, but I made it with my own food desires in mind (rather than for the kids or hubby).
I was craving the tangy marinade and crunch of vegetables, and wanted that fast – and lots of it! And, this recipe does make a generous batch. Which is good! Because here’s the only catch with this salad: It’s best after it has at least a few hours to marinate. The flavors will soak into the beans (particularly the kidney beans). So, make it a few hours ahead of time, or even a day ahead. If you are serving to guests and are concerned about the apple losing its crunch and color, then make the salad without and then add the apple just before serving.
Anyone can make this salad. Even its name itself is uncluttered and approachable – “Three-Bean Salad”. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting in flavors or dynamic in textures! Sometimes, recipes can sound unapproachable, and I wanted this one to sound very approachable and doable. It doesn’t have any obscure ingredients, and requires no tools other than a cutting board, chef’s knife, bowl and spoon. Yep, you can eat straight out of your mixing bowl if you like!
Just be sure to add the apple. Don’t skip it. Or the cloves. Trust me.
Does this recipe sound familiar? I remember a version of it that my mom served for potlucks and “cold-plate” dinners. Variations of this salad are also sometimes found at deli counters for take-out. What is fairly constant among the adaptations is the combination of chickpeas and kidney beans in a vinegar-prominent dressing. My version uses green onions in place of raw red or white onions, a touch of natural sweetener instead of white sugar, very little (or no) oil, and the addition of raw apple to lighten up the flavors. Serves 6 as a side dish.
4 cups combination of chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans (rinse and drain first if using canned)
½ – ¾ cup green or red bell pepper, chopped (or combination of both)
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
½ cup green onions (mostly green portion, not as much white), sliced
3 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 – 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (keeps salad moist but optional – omit for oil-free version)
½ -1 tbsp pure maple syrup
½ – 1 tsp Dijon mustard (use 1 tsp for extra ‘kick’)
½ tsp + 1/8 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup apple, chopped (cored first, peeling optional), and tossed in ½ tsp lemon juice
couple pinches ground cloves
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (no need to mix the vinaigrette separately), tossing well to fully mix. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper if desired.
If This Apron Could Talk: This salad tastes best after it’s had about a day to sit and the beans have absorbed some of the marinade. Be sure to toss again to redistribute any dressing lingering at the bottom of your container.
What are your favorite beans or favorite bean dishes?
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