Friday, May 21, 2010

One thousand and one bean salad recipes

Bean salad.  Most of us have grown up trying at least half a dozen versions of it if not more.  It's a standard picnic food... if you can ever get some picnic weather.  You can get big jars of it at Costco.  (Way too sweet according to my bean salad loving hubby.)  Everybody has their own preferences on what beans and sundry to include.  Everybody has differing opinions on how sweet it should be.  I was never a huge fan as a child.  I have changed my tune in adulthood.  And this recipe (IMHO) is quite good - my keeper.  I found myself going back and picking at it last night when I made it, this morning when I packed it up for hubby's lunch (more on that later), and throughout today.  I would probably eat almost as much of this as Texas caviar which for some reason I just adore.  They are somewhat similar, the latter just doesn't have the sugar.  I like bean salad less sweet, which is probably why I love Texas Caviar so much.  But this one.  Mmmm.  Tangy, just a bit spicy, not too sweet.  Good bean salad.  You know the nice thing about bean salad is that it is so infinitely customizable (is that a word? I think so).  Don't like garbanzos?  Use less.  Or something else entirely.  Lima beans - ew.  Or great northerns or cannellini beans.  My hubby passed by the salad a number of times and made a very happy noise each time.  He also decided he was going to take a great container of it for lunch today!  And let me tell you, trying to get him to take a lunch to work is like pulling teeth.  So here is my take on however-many-bean salad.  Free free to customize!  (I forgot to pick up the wax beans last night, so used two can of green beans, but I really do prefer to use one of each.  I love wax beans.)

Bunch 'o Bean Salad

1 (14oz) can green beans
1 (14oz) can wax beans (You can just use 2 cans of green beans if you don't like wax beans)
1 (15oz) can red kidney beans
1 (8.75 or 15oz) can pinto beans
1 (8.75oz) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 small green pepper (or any color you like), diced
1 small red onion, chopped

2/3 cup vinegar (half apple cider, half white wine)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (adds a touch of sweetness and nice depth of flavor)
1/3 - ½ cup oil  (use an oil that won't congeal in the fridge - I used mostly canola and added a little avocado oil too)
¼ - ½ cup loosely packed light brown muscovado sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I used homemade - so awesome, even though mine was soy free)
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp dill weed
Dash or two of Tabasco or Green Tabasco to taste (optional)

Drain and rinse all the beans and place in a large bowl.  Dice the green pepper and chop the onion.  Add to the bowl.  (You may use a red pepper or other color if you prefer; truth be told, I like the orange and red best, but in this case the extra bite of the green contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the dressing.)  Now whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl or measuring cup.  Pour over the salad and toss.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, tossing occasionally.  Taste before serving and adjust the salt if desired.  I added another generous ¼ tsp this morning.  Serve with a slotted spoon to drain off most of the dressing.  Send off with a very appreciative husband.  This stuff only gets better with age, but I have a feeling it will not last beyond tomorrow.

After dinner tonight, my husband stated that I could continue to make this in perpetuity.  He said that when you spend your dinner discussing the nuances of the bean salad, you know it's good! 


  1. Gets better each day ... but it never lasts long enough! My husband lives on this in the summer and still asks for it during the winter.

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