This is one healthy three bean salad recipe that you don’t want to pass up! Perfect for summer picnics and potlucks, this classic vegan salad has been revamped with chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and fresh apples to add a flair of sweetness.
How do you make a three bean salad from scratch?
Short answer: you make it in a flash! Because this is possibly the easiest bean salad recipe you can make.
As we know, beans are packed with nutrition. But they also offer up a lot of culinary versatility. They can be used in dishes from soups to dips, burgers, casseroles, dressings, salads, and more (even desserts like chickpea brownies).
So many ways to #useyourbean. 😉
What makes this three bean salad so unique?
When (1) we don’t have much time (2) it’s too hot to cook, or (3) we are wiped and want a quick fix… that’s when a good bean salad comes into play.
Like this easy 3 bean salad! This recipe is from my 4th cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan, and it’s one I turn to over and again. Why?
- it has simple ingredients that we almost always have on hand
- the seasonings are simple but satisfying: I love its tangy marinade!
- the flavors are fresh, crisp, and tangy: my recipe has a slight departure in ingredients from the traditional version, making it healthier and tastier (imho)!
- it tastes EVEN better after it’s had hours or even a day to marinate
- it’s easy – I think I mentioned that, right? 😬
Three Bean Salad Recipe Q&A
Yes, in fact, it tastes even better when made several hours, or even a day ahead. One thing to note, however: to preserve the color of the fresh apple, make the salad ahead of time omitting the apple. Then, just stir in the chopped apple before serving.
It can. There are quite a few versions of three-bean salad. Some use canned wax beans and/or canned green beans. Others use cooked beans like garbanzos, kidney beans, cannellini beans, and black beans. If you want to swap in some other beans, feel free to do so keeping the overall measures the same.
A personal preference. I find raw onions too sharp. However, you can soften their flavor by soaking sliced raw onions in ice-cold water for about a half-hour. I prefer the ease of green onions, plus I love the color.
About 3-5 days is best.
Absolutely, you can substitute chopped cucumber, chopped red cabbage, sliced radish, or another crunchy vegetable that you love. As for the apple, trust me, it works (as does the ground cloves, don’t skip it)! However, in the summer, a great substitute for the apple might be a firmer peach or nectarine.
So many serving options! Think about serving straight-up alongside grilled corn and steamed potatoes. Or, try topping on a bed of greens with an extra drizzle of dressing. Or, imagine it like a chunky salsa to serve with guacamole and tortilla chips! How about a buddha bowl, serving alongside a cooked grain, some steamed greens, and drizzled with a smoky tahini sauce. That should get you started!
All you need now: cutting board, knife, bowl, and a spoon. Get going with this easy recipe and let me know how you liked it! Enjoy… x Dreena
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Easy Three Bean Salad Recipe
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, no oil, and the addition of raw apple to lighten up the flavors.
- 4 cups combination of chickpeas rinse and drain first if using canned, kidney beans, and black beans
- ¾ cup green or red bell pepper or combination of both, chopped
- ¼ cup celery finely chopped
- ½ cup green onions mostly green portion, not as much white, sliced
- 3 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard use 1 1/2 tsp for extra ‘kick’
- ½ + 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup apple cored first, peeling optional, chopped , 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.
This post was original published May 2012, and has been updated for June 2021. Photos by Angela MacNeil.