Seasonal Recipes West

November 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

California Presents: Three Bean Salad

String beans are only in season in Southern California for a few more weeks, so I picked up a few pounds of Blue Lake green beans and yellow wax beans at this morning’s farmer’s market. I love fresh string beans raw with hummus or blanched and topped with toasted almonds but today I decided to make one of my favorite salads: Three Bean Salad.


By using fresh green beans and yellow wax beans instead of canned, this deli staple has none of its usual sogginess. The beans are quickly blanched and then plunged into an ice bath rendering them tender-crisp. The simple vinaigrette has sweetness balanced by fresh garlic, and red onions and fresh parsley add flavor and color. I use canned kidney beans but feel free to substitute dried beans that have been soaked and cooked. You could also substitute a different bean entirely such as black beans or garbanzo beans.

The salad flavors have to blend at least 8 hours or overnight, so make this dish a day before you intend to eat it. Because the salad lasts all week in the refrigerator, you can make a large batch and have it for lunch over several days. It’s also great for parties, especially if you have guests with special dietary needs.  Along with being vegan, Three Bean Salad is also gluten free. It’s all in a day’s work for the humble string bean.

Serves: 8


  • 1 c. red wine vinegar
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • ½ c. vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 8 oz. fresh yellow wax beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ c. chopped red onion
  • ¼ c. minced fresh parsley


  1. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl with a cover that is large enough to hold the salad.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water and 1 T. salt to a boil in a large stock pot or saucepan. Add green and yellow beans, return to a boil, and simmer until softened slightly but still tender-crisp and bright in color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the beans from cooking. Drain well and pour into the bowl with the vinegar mixture.
  3. Stir in kidney beans, red onion, and parsley and toss until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight to blend flavors.
  4. Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving and bring to room temperature.

-Meggan Hill