Classic Potluck Recipe: Three Bean Salad

Classic Potluck Recipe: Three Bean Salad

Nealey Dozier
Jul 18, 2013

On Monday I posted a retro recipe for cabbage and ramen slaw. Today I'm offering another throwback salad that also deserves its time in the sun. Three bean salad is a summer picnic and potluck favorite, and for very good reason.

You'll find at least one version (or fifty) of three bean salad in any community cookbook you stumble across. I actually took a few minutes to flip through the pages of some of my many old cookbooks, and I was fascinated at the different variations. The sheer quantity made me want to try them all. 

This three bean salad is a pretty straight-forward take on the classic — a mix of fresh and canned beans, a tangy vinaigrette, and red onions for color and crunch. Of course there is plenty of room for adaptation, which is what makes it perfect for any cook to keep in their back pocket. You can use any beans you have on hand, add peppers or herbs, or adjust the ingredients to your taste. I love this recipe for parties, but it's equally good to keep a batch in your fridge for a quick lunch or healthy snack. 

What about you? Do you have an old school recipe for three bean salad?

Three Bean Salad

Serves 6

This recipe is called three bean salad, but my version actually has four. Honestly, you can't have too many!

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup edamame (soy beans), thawed if frozen
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 - 2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard 
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and yellow wax beans, and cook until bright and crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine the cooked beans, garbanzo beans, edamame, and red onion in a large bowl. 

In another bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, sugar, and Dijon until well combined. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the beans and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for a minimum of two hours or overnight. 

Recipe Notes 

  • You can use any mix of beans, such as kidney beans, cranberry beans, black-eyed peas, and lima beans.

(Images: Nealey Dozier)

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