Simple White Bean Salad
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A few weeks ago, my friend Sandy texted me a recipe for a white bean salad. She told me she had been making it for her grandchildren and thought my kids would like it, too.
The recipe called for making a simple dressing, a mix of diced sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, salt, olive oil, and a splash of the sun-dried tomato-infused oil from the jar. From there, you add two cans of beans, diced red onion, fresh basil, and Manchego cheese.
It sounded simple enough, so I gave it a go, adding some vegetables I had on hand: fresh corn, diced raw zucchini, sliced scallions, and a minced jalapeño.
The combination of the vegetables with the beans, herbs, and the bright, acidic dressing almost pushed the salad into salsa territory. I found it addictive, and as I tasted it, seasoning it with more salt and vinegar until it tasted just right, I kept wondering: When and why did I stop using sun-dried tomatoes?
The fresh summer produce of course brings lots of flavor and texture here, but it’s the dressing — the deep concentrated tomato flavor, both sweet and tangy — that makes this salad.
Friends! I’m excited. This time of year I’m always looking for simple, make-ahead salads to pull out at the dinner hour. This one is just that, and I think it’s something I’ll build on as the months go on, changing it based on the season and what’s available: fresh cherry tomatoes, blistered poblano peppers, roasted sweet potatoes and red onions. The possibilities are endless.
I can’t wait to see where you take this one.
How to Make a Bean Salad, Step by Step
First, gather your dressing ingredients: olive oil, white balsamic (or other vinegar), sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and garlic.
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, then whisk to combine.
Then gather the other ingredients: white beans, red onion, corn, jalapeño (optional), and zucchini.
Dice the zucchini — no need to cook it.
And remove the corn from the cob:
Gather some herbs. The original recipe calls for basil, which I think works beautifully here, but if you have a ton of parsley on hand, it would work well here, too. I love scallions in these sorts of salads, so I’ve been adding them here, too.
Drain and rinse the beans, then…
… drop them into the dressing.
Season the beans generously with salt, then add the other ingredients and…
… toss to combine. Add the chopped fresh basil or parsley.
Toss again. Taste, and adjust as needed with more salt, vinegar, or oil to taste.
… or pack into storage containers for the week ahead. This salad gets better as it sits, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time.Print
Adapted from a recipe my friend Sandy sent to me.
- Beans: As recommended by my friend Sandy, I’ve been buying small white beans, often labeled as habichuelas blancas — they’re smaller than Great Northern, Cannellini, and some varieties of Navy beans (as far as I can tell).
- Salt: I use Diamond Crystal. If you are using Morton, you may need to use less. Start with 1 teaspoon, and add more to taste.
- Cheese: The original recipe calls for diced Manchego cheese, but I find I like it just as much without any cheese. If you like the idea of cheese here, however, add 1/2 to 1 cup of small-diced cubes of Manchego or other cheese.
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed, finely diced + 2 tablespoons of the oil from the jar
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane
- kosher salt, see notes
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- two 15-oz cans of small white beans, see notes, drained and rinsed
- 2 ears corns, shucked
- 1 small zucchini, finely diced to yield 2 cups
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced to yield 1 cup
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced, optional
- fresh basil or parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/2 to 1 cup
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and vinegar with a pinch of salt. Add the olive oil and the 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato oil and whisk to combine.
- Add the drained and rinsed white beans and season with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
- Strip the kernels from the cob: Line a large, wide bowl with a kitchen towel. Use one hand to hold an ear of corn in place upright atop the kitchen towel, and with your other hand, use a chef’s knife to cut off two to three rows of kernels at a time by sliding the knife down the cob.
- Add the corn to the bowl along with the zucchini, red onion, scallions, and jalapeño, if using. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust with more salt and vinegar to taste. I consistently have been adding another tablespoon of vinegar and a pinch more salt, too.
- Add the fresh herbs, toss one last time, and serve immediately or pack into storage containers. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: No-cook
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, corn, zucchini, basil