3-Bean Salad


If I were to make a cookbook with only three recipes per category, you would find this as one of the three in the salad chapter. For some reason, when people hear “3-Bean Salad” they give me a look that says they are not excited or impressed. Many of those same people have their perspective changed after they eat it.

I would choose it for a cookbook because it is incredibly simple, beautiful and versatile. Simple: the recipe below speaks for itself. Beautiful: the colors, textures and flavors are appealing and balanced. Versatile: you can choose the types of beans and vegetables according to your preferences and what you are serving with it. Think about black beans, pinto beans and garbonzo beans with tomatoes, corn, onions and peppers in a Mexican salad. Or if you aren’t a fan of garbonzo beans, cannellini beans would work. Have a bounty of green beans from your garden? Use them! Skip the other beans.  Throw in some olives or roasted red peppers. This is a great opportunity to use what you have or try something new.

People continually roll their eyes at me for this next step. Do you see in the picture how all the elements are virtually the same size? I have been told over and over that the symmetry does not affect the taste … that it is only a visual thing.

Not. True.

This is where the balance comes in. When you take a bite of the salad, you want the vegetables to be equally represented. Laugh if you want … I will not be offended.

I know I’m right.

In fact, I’m so convinced of this that I cut the green beans that come out of the can so they are all close to the same length as the kidney beans. That is also the gauge I use for dicing the vegetables.

3-Bean Salad

1 15-0z can garbonzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can cut green beans, drained (and cut to size of kidney beans)
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced green/red/yellow/orange pepper
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumbers
1/4 cup vinegar (white, red wine, rice wine, apple cider, flavored)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all beans and vegetables in a large bowl. Combine vinegar or choice, oil and sugar in a small mason jar (or bowl), shaking (stirring) until sugar dissolves; stir in salt and pepper and pour over beans/vegetables. Refrigerate (stirring occasionally to distribute dressing) for at least 2 hours. 

This salad will stay fresh for several days in the refrigerator.

Serves: 10-12

Of course, you don’t have to be as fussy as I am. Really. It’s okay. It will taste good regardless.

But you’ll always wonder if it would have tasted better. Won’t you?


This colorful, delicious, and simple bean salad recipe is loaded with vegetables and perfectly balanced with a light, tangy dressing.

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