Hi everyone, welcome back to Kelly’s Kitchen. I am happy you’re here today. As summer kicks into full swing, I was reminiscing about summer picnics – specifically summer picnic salads. My favorite summer picnics are the ones that accompany outdoor performances, like Shakespeare in the park or a summer concert series.
Three Bean Salad is a quintessential picnic dish. It turns out it’s my grandmother’s favorite salad (I just found this out yesterday when my Mom asked me what today’s recipe was). I definitely remember this dish on repeat during the summers I spent with my grandparents.
When I was young, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, my grandparents would often take me to the Stern Grove Festival which is a summer concert series. Sigmund Stern Grove is a beautiful eucalyptus grove near the Sunset district in the City.
My grandmother would pack picnic snacks and warm clothes (because the coldest winter is summer in San Francisco). We would claim a spot, spread our blanket and bundle up. During the concert we played cards and ate our snacks. I can remember the smell of the steaming coffee from my grandparent’s big green Stanley thermos. The summer concert series is in its 83rd season! But sadly this year, it’s presented as a virtual Best of the Fest series.
Three Bean Salad
But I digress, Let’s get to that recipe!
You can use whatever beans you like for this salad. And you don’t have to limit it to just three types of bean, either. That said, I never much liked canned green beans – they’re too mushy and salty, so I am using fresh yellow and green beans. Along with canned garbanzo beans and Great Northern Beans.
First, I made the dressing. There is quite a bit of sugar in this dressing. Traditionally, Three Bean Salad has a tangy sweet dressing. But feel free to cut back on the amount of sugar if you like.
Three Bean Salad
- 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1.5 tsp Kosher Salt, more to taste
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper, more to taste
- Combine ingredients in a shaker jar and shake well to mix.
For the Salad
- 1 15 oz Can Garbanzo Beans
- 1 15 oz Can Great Northern Beans, or Kidney Beans
- 1 Bunch Green Beans, and/or Yellow Beans
- 1 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley
- 1/2 Red onion, or a Whole Small Onion
- 1 Bunch Celery
- Mix all ingredients with dressing and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
If a dressing has only a few ingredients, like this one, I rarely take the blender out. Instead I use a jar or an old salad dressing bottle I have saved. I pour the ingredients in and just shake it. it’s so much easier and more effective than mixing it with a whisk.
If you’re using fresh beans, which I totally recommend, wash them and chop them up into bite size pieces. Then, this isn’t necessary, but I like to give them a quick blanch in boiling water, just to take the raw edge off and slightly soften them.
After a minute or two, strain them and run cold water over them, you can also plunge them into an ice bath.
Drain and rinse your canned beans and throw them in a mixing bowl with your green beans. Then dice your celery, onions and rough chop your parsley.
All that’s left to do is mix it all together.
And there you have it!
This salad just gets better over time, so make it a few hours before you plan to serve it so the flavors of the dressing can marinate the beans and vegetables. I like to put it in a Ziplock and squeeze out all the air to ensure all the beans and veggies are getting their fair share of the dressing, and not just the veggies at the bottom of the bowl. This also is nice because it takes up less space in the fridge.
What are your favorite picnic foods? If you haven’t thought of making Three Bean Salad in a long time, I encourage you to whip one up. I hadn’t had this salad in years, and I am not sure why it never occurred to me to make it. It’s so good and nourishing with all the protein from the beans – perfect for a hot summer day. If you’re looking for other great picnic food, check out my fried chicken recipe, or my German potato salad recipe! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! Take care, be well, xo Kelly