Recipes

beach bean salad

Considering that bean salads — a can of beans, a Good Season-ish dressing, whatever chopped vegetables struck my fancy — were a fairly significant staple of my diet in my post-college years, I was shocked, absolutely shook, to realize how sparsely they’re represented here. In fact, there’s only two and they’re among the oldest recipes on this site. Let’s fix this right now. I spotted Alice’s Rosary Cannellini Salad at the end of a Stained Page newsletter last month — a wonderful newsletter if you’re interested in following cookbook news and gossip. The recipe is from a new, charming cookbook called A Good Meal Is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from Deep South, by Martha Hall Foose, with original paintings throughout from Amy C. Evans in which each recipe tells a story from a quirky Southern character who shares a beloved recipe. I don’t usually look at bean salad recipes because I don’t need a recipe, I stubbornly insist, I can create my own on a whim whenever I want, but a few days after spotting this one — with an intriguing combination of roasted bell peppers, a sherry vinaigrette, and radicchio — a voice within me that said “maybe you can but what if you didn’t have to” grew ever-louder and I succumbed.


what you'll needroasted or broiled until blackpeel and seed the pepperscut the peppers into thin stripsparsley and radicchioso delicious

I am so glad I did because with a few tiny tweaks, I not only discovered my new platonic ideal of a bean salad, I discovered the very best summer food to bring in a jar anywhere your socially distanced summer might let you escape to. I had some on an empty beach two weeks ago. I brought some to the park to walk my children. If you come by to pick something up, I’m definitely shoving a jar in your hands leaving a jar in a bag on the counter, walking away, and hoping you spot it before you leave it outside for a few days or something. It’s colorful, deeply flavorful, keeps fantastically, and hits the spot without making you need a nap, fulfilling all of my salad hopes and dreams right now. At a time when so many favorite, beloved restaurants and cafes are closed, and feeding ourselves requires nonstop planning and self-sufficiency, getting to eat something this delicious has made me feel like I’m missing out on a whole lot less.

a to-go cup

Previously

Six months ago: Banana Toffee Cake
One year ago: Raspberry Crumble Tart Bars
Two years ago: Ice Cream Cake Roll
Three years ago: Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake and Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad
Four years ago: Almond-Rhubarb Picnic Bars
Five years ago: Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, Fake Shack Burger, and Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles
Six years ago: Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
Seven years ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano and Two Classic Sangrias
Eight years ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice and Tzatziki Potato Salad
Nine years ago: Classic Cobb Salad, Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits
Ten years ago: Asparagus, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Eleven years ago: Martha’s Mac-and-Cheese, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Twelve years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Thirteen years ago: Homemade Oreos and Cellophane Noodle and Roast Pork Salad

Beach Bean Salaad

  • 2 large bell peppers (one red, one yellow, if you can find)
  • 1 poblano pepper or a third bell pepper (mine was orange)
  • 3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 pound dried, cooked)
  • 4 ounces very thinly sliced soppressata, cut into very thin strips (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves or 1 large, minced with a teaspoon or two of oregano
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary (I skipped this)
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 to 2 cups radicchio in 1/4-inch ribbons or torn into bite-size pieces

Heat your broiler. Put your peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. [If your broiler is more annoying than effective, you can do as I do: 400 degree oven and roast the peppers for about 30 minutes, turning them every 10 so that they get blistered on all sides.] Set the peppers aside to cool until you can handle them.

In a big bowl, combine your beans and soppressata, if using. When cool enough to handle, break the peppers open over the beans and let the peppers’ juices run out. Pull the charred skin and seeds from the peppers and discard. Sometimes, I find it easiest to give each pepper strip a quick rinse under cool water to remove clinging seeds. Cut the peppers into thin strips and add to the beans, plus any more juices that collect. Chop garlic with rosemary and oregano finely minced and add to bowl. Drizzle the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice over the salad and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss to combine everything. Here, you can add ribboned radicchio, as I do, or you can put torn pieces on a plate later and serve the bean salad on top of it. The salad is ready to eat now, but it’s even better after marinating for an hour or two.

Do ahead: Bean salad keeps in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

A few ingredient notes: You could swap 1 pound dried cannellini, cooked and cooled, for the 3 drained cans. (I made my first batch with Rancho Gordo’s delicious Marcella beans and the batch you see here with Goya Great Northern and it turned out to be exactly as good, lucky us.) You could use other small beans, black or yellow-eyed peas, or chickpeas here, doesn’t matter. I add a little garlic, because roasted red peppers need garlic. I use dried oregano instead of fresh because of my Good Seasons nostalgia, and skipped the rosemary because my plant is scraggly. I used much less radicchio than called for (original recipe call for two heads). I know it can be quite bitter but it mellows beautifully without becoming soggy or unpleasant in the salad, even days later. And I use a third sweet bell pepper instead of a poblano. Rainbow-colored peppers aren’t mandatory but they do look pretty if you can find them. You could use jarred peppers, but I vastly prefer the sweetness (and juices that flavor the salad) of roasting fresh ones. The soppressata (an Italian dry salami that comes hot or mild) is completely optional and I don’t think you’ll find the salad lacking for anything if you skip it. Whatever swap you’re considering, I say you go for it. Bean salads are flexible.

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89 comments on beach bean salad

  1. Yuriy

    Great recipe. Though I strongly disagree with the use of the word “or” in this line: “Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes.”

  2. Deanna

    The flavors in this vaguely remind me of my very favorite salad, Nancy Silverton’s chopped salad. Which is to say, I’m definitely making this, but adding cheese because if I’m eating a bean salad for lunch, it should be as close to my favorite salad as possible.

    1. Elisabeth

      Maybe endive if you can get that? I’m sure cabbage would be good as well, but I like the softer texture and slight bitterness of radicchio. I think endive is in the same family.

      1. Kj

        What happened to the print option? When I press the icon the print I get is now filled with ads from the website and the recipe buried within. I used to get a nicely formatted recipe (though sadly not including a photo of the dish.) But now, plenty of photos but they’re all photos of ads and other recommendations.

        1. deb

          Thanks for the heads up. However, it’s working for me — I get the usual print template when I press CTRL + P or the print icon button below the recipe. What browser are you using?

        2. Monica

          KJ, it sounds like you just accidentally clicked on the AD that says “Print Recipe” (it’s meant to trick us into going to the advertisers site. No fault of Debs).

          1. Molly

            I had the same problem with the print option. Using safari on iPhone & AirPrint.

            Thanks for another winning recipe, Deb!

      1. Divya

        Made these tonight with Rancho Gordo flageolets! So delicious and you are so right that homemade roasted peppers taste the best.

  3. Anne Ferguson

    Love your recipes, and I love white beans, but peppers don’t agree with me and they sound fairly integral to this recipe. Have any suggestions for a substitute?

      1. nbm

        Deb, I think Helen saw (as I did) that the SERVINGS heading says only NUMBER OF SERVINGS and needs some replacement text. My bean salads are never as pretty as yours, though they can be tasty.

  4. Mimi

    This looks delicious and I’m sure it is, per your usual, but can I just say my favorite part of this post is your correct use of the adverb “socially distanced”. If I hear or read the phrase “social-distanced gathering” one more time! Grinds my gears.

    1. Mimi

      I finally made this today after my weekly grocery run, and I’m following up to say that your grammar, while stellar, is now my second favorite part of this post. This salad wins the internet. Holy smokes is it tasty.

  5. Mickey2942

    Deb, we must be connected somehow, I made something very similar this week. The roasted peppers are brilliant, will have to try this. It is so fresh and summery. I put in my garden this week.

  6. Andrea Vaughan

    We have a firm family favourite which uses mixed beans and a sugar/oil/vinegar dressing/brine, but this summer I’m trying to cut down the sugars…this will definitely be going in the rotation.

  7. Amanda

    How is it you always know what I want to eat before I do? This looks amazing, like the perfect thing to hang out in my fridge for easy lunches and light dinners, can’t wait to make it for myself!

  8. Sama

    I will make this when it’s cool enough to turn the oven back on, but another version I loved from a friend’s mother in Greece: black eyed peas, lots of chopped red capsicum, handful of fresh scallion, parsley, dill (or oregano) and a few tablespoons of capers. Tossed with lemon or red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. She makes it as a side almost every day and I could live on it with feta, olives and some slice tomatoes or cucumbers, sometimes a boiled egg. I make it ALL the time.

  9. Susan

    I make a very similar salad of many versions that we seem to always have on hand in summer for when we don’t want to cook..I like the ribbons of salami in it and I’ve added half moons of zucchini and even leftover corn from the cob. There are so many things you can substitute or add to a good bean salad.

  10. Don Bailey

    I’m writing from Wyoming. We we have heard about radicchio out here, and a few have tasted it. But I asked a few friends about soppressata, they thought it was related to sopapilla. We don’t have all those New York specialty foods, but we have clean air, almost no Corona virus and plenty of lamb.

    I will make the beach bean salad soon. It looks wonderful.

  11. Quin

    This sounds amazing, but I noticed that something has gone wrong with the bit where you list the number of servings. It just says “Servings: Number of Servings.”

    Three cans of beans sounds like a lot! I may have to halve this (I live alone). I must try it though!

  12. Franziska

    When I read the recipe I knew why I had randomly soaked and cooked cannellini beans and chickpeas 😉
    Apart from mixing both to get to the required amount I followed the recipe to a t. It was great and the fresh herbs I wouldn’t have added without the recipe (especially fresh rosemary). Thanks a lot 😋

  13. Heather Boynton

    Sherry vinegar…I’m assuming that’s not the same thing as sherry cooking wine. Is there a substitute? I live in the sticks and haven’t been able to find it.

  14. JP

    Bean salads are not usually so pretty! I love the colors! Good to know that I can use the beans I have because beans are the one thing that are still difficult to find in the stores. Fortunately I keep a few varieties on hand.

    Stay well. Our county in CA is still SIP and I am happy to oblige.

  15. Sandy

    Normally I despise recipe commenters that give a review based upon making abundant substitutions (“I substituted 11 things and it turned out horrible, I hate this recipe!!!), but since Deb officially sanctioned this activity, I figure this may help someone else shopping their fridge/pantry during this virus. I used regular salami in place of sopresatta, arugula in place of radicchio, and red wine vinegar instead of sherry, and it’s delicious. I’m excited for my lunches this week. Thank you, Deb!

  16. Marbarre

    Deb, I never post on anything, for the some of the same reasons you expressed in your newsletter. But I simply had to respond to your sentiments, which I think are spot on. You may not think your opinion matters, but you are an influencer, and people respect you. You and people like you who believe in the ideals expressed in the message to your son are one of the reasons that I can keep despair at bay.. most days. That, and making and serving nourishing food to those I love, for which I look to you for inspiration.

    1. Sharon Hanna

      This is me “agreeing” with Marbarre. Surprised that other folks didn’t mention it rather than quibbling about ingredients (sorry sorry sorry). Yikes. Sorry if that wreaks havoc.
      I’m in Canada; we have similar stuff going on with First Nations folks, residential school trauma survivors and the like, so we are not Lily White. To be a person of colour in the U.S. must be so terrifying esp. in the Tr-mp era; I can only imagine what mothers must feel, and how they have to teach their children that at any moment they might be handcuffed and shot.

  17. Ooh, I love a good bean salad in a jar. I found myself making marinated bean salad all this winter, when produce was eh. My preferred herb is mint, and sometimes I’d pretend I was at a salad bar: baby spinach, marinated beans, marinated mushrooms, grated carrot, roasted beets, and maybe some sort of nut or sunflower seed, plus dried fruit.

  18. Laurie Kearns

    Deb. I love this salad! All of Monday, June 1 recipes are yummy, satifying to cook and satisfying to eat. AND, i don’t think you were over – political in your comments. These days are hard, difficult and astonishing at best. Cooking and eating are part of the fabric of our lives as families and a society, it would be wrong to ignore the events that touch family and the greater world. Even/especially while planning, cooking, and eating meals. Peace.

  19. Christinefromnj

    Thank you for your comments on the tragic events in our country this past week. They weren’t political, they were personal. We are all feeling this and I’m pleased that you shared your thoughts. I love your writing because it’s so personal and funny. I like it even more after reading this. Secondly, I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  20. ErinAlison

    This recipe is not for me since I really don’t care for bell peppers or radicchio (although if I can think up decent substitutions my husband would love it), but I just had to come and post my first comment ever to let you know how very much I appreciated your newsletter. I’m not so good with the words so I don’t know what else to say other than I appreciate you speaking up. And also I love your recipes so much that anytime I make something new, my family and friends ask if it’s from Smitten.

  21. Megan

    I made this with just one substitution in addition to Deb’s own changes, using red wine vinegar in place of sherry. I really enjoyed my first bowl and have saved about two meals of leftovers for lunch. I only made a half recipe so I have half a head of radicchio left, and will be making a baby version of Insalata Nostrana with the rest – it’s a punchy local Caesar variant and the recipe is available on Google.

  22. Susielou17

    My bean salad was tweaked a little; I added some diced red onion and red wine vinegar. I served it on butter lettuce. Today I added some cold angel hair pasta and a cold diced hard-boiled egg. Great late breakfast!

  23. Anna B

    Longtime reader and fan here. Very disappointed to hear silence on the news around Black Lives Matter. There is nothing more important going on this week than this story, and the silence of white women in moments of controversy is absolutely part of the problem. You have a chance to affect change with your platform, but you must decide to use it for good or all the bean salads in the world mean nothing. I hope you will consider pulling this story and replacing it with content that amplifies the voices of our communities of color to honor the life of George Floyd and the nationwide fight against police brutality.

    1. Madison

      Hi Anna, not sure if you subscribe to Deb’s newsletter, but she posted a very moving and heartfelt letter to the SK community underscoring #BlackLivesMatter and the importance of educating ourselves and our families on these painful topics of race and white privilege. Additionally, Deb has halted all cooking-related posts from SK on her social media accounts except for a re-statement of the importance of #BLM.

      Further, on Deb’s personal social media, she has been thoughtfully and frequently amplifying melanated voices and sharing resources for delving deeply into these topics and directing her followers to donate and commit to working on this topic. I understand she has not posted here on the blog, but please be aware that she is using many channels to raise her voice on this incredibly important issue.

      1. Anna B

        That is fantastic to hear and a great start, but for those who don’t have social media or get her newsletter (arguably, the audience we need to work on most urgently since they aren’t plugged into these convos the way most Twitter/Instagram users are) seeing a casual business-as-usual post this week was and is jarring. We all still need to be doing more than we have in the past even if it seems hard or excessive to some because clearly what we have tried in the past has not been enough. We really ❤️ Deb in this house and are glad she is vocal on this, but I would still love to see her bring this critical message to the mainstream followers here on her site.

      2. Julie

        Madison, thank you for writing that! I didn’t think Deb was silent on these matters, since this site is just one of many ways she expresses herself. But I somehow didn’t even know that a newsletter existed (my own fault I’m sure). I will look for it and sign up for it as soon as I post this comment.

  24. Thank you for the story about telling your son about the events on your street this weekend. It was touching and I felt your heart in it. As we all struggle to learn the words to understand and explain discrimination and the events of recent days, it helps to find personal accounts like yours.

    On another subject, I’ve never been let down by a single one of your recipes—oh, well, there was a bad moment with a cake, but I think it was user error. Thanks for all the reliable, delicious food advice during the lockdown.

  25. Kameran

    Dear Deb,
    First, I have been a devoted follower of yours for over a decade and usually defer to your site as a first stop for any thoughts of “I want to cook this thing I have in my fridge/freezer/pantry/mind… let’s see what Smitten Kitchen has to say”. I shall love you forever. I hope that’s okay with your husband; mine already knows it’s a thing.

    Today I came to you seeking inspiration for the large bag of pinto beans in my pantry. I found love for kidney beans, chickpeas, white beans, and lentils but surprisingly few (none?) for pintos. Am I missing a hidden stash of recipes?

    Thank you for everything you do. You continue to be amazing.

    -Kameran

  26. Jo

    Hi Deb and fellow lovely readers. Love how this site unites us all – different backgrounds, cultures, food ideas. Thought this fine salad would be delicious with feta or similar cheese. Also, much as I love fresh herbs, find dried mint amazing in this type of salad. Enjoy!

  27. Jean

    Terrific! The one addition was garnishing with chive flowers from the garden. I used Rancho Gordo’s lima beans from my pantry. Loved this and I am looking forward to the leftovers.

  28. Seale

    Have to say, I was disappointed by this recipe. Lots of good ingredients, but they did not come together in a ‘wow!’ way for me— on the bland side. Followed the recipe as written;it was a lot of work for a so-so result… roasting, peeling, slicing peppers, most especially. It needs zipping up some how…at least mine did! Am a huge fan of Deb’s dishes, but won’t be repeating this one!

  29. kelli ann

    all of my salad hopes ! in a bonne maman jar !
    after listening to samin nosrat’s ode to beans and bean liquid (on Home Cooking)
    i have made some delicious creamy white beans at home and feel like a wizard. will be using some to make this salad. oh, and your buttermilk dressing for the broccoli slaw is my favourite

  30. Alice Halstead

    What a gorgeous, fun salad to make!!! Delicious! I’m lazy so I tried a new method with the peppers, I took our the stem with the core, shook out all the seeds, then closed the hole with some foil. Worked like a charm and no seedy mess!

  31. Lauren

    Very delicious and, as you said, adaptable. I used pressure cooked navy beans, left out the radicchio and meat, and added roasted grape tomatoes, some leftover elbow macaroni, and cubes of mozzarella. I’m sure olives would be good too. Another great recipe to add to my all beans all the time lifestyle.

  32. Francoise

    First of all, this makes A LOT! I only made 2/3 and have enough leftovers to feed us for many meals to come (family of 4). Secondly, for the people who don’t think the recipe has enough “zip” I recommend using red wine vinegar. While sherry vinegar is lovely and slightly sweet, I think a salad like this needs the punchiness of the red wine vinegar

  33. Joanna

    This is the easiest, loveliest summer salad! It’s getting warm in Boston, so I decided to toss this together since it requires minimal oven use.

    I had to substitute pancetta for sopressata, and I am not sad about that. Everything came together beautifully in about 15 minutes, minus the half hour i waited for the peppers to cool to the touch.

    I also left out the rosemary and only had dried oregano on hand. Easy, peasy mostly shelf stable ingredients!

  34. Lea

    I had the last my leftovers at work today and this just got better every day. In used Rancho Gordo’s white lima beans. I made them in the Instant Pot with salt, garlic cloves, bay leaf and olive oil in the cooking water. I love the simplicity of canned beans but it convinced me of experimenting more with cooking dried beans.

  35. Maclean Nash

    Cannellini beans are my absolute favourite, and I have had this recipe ear-marked since you posted it!
    I made it yesterday and it turned out wonderfully!
    Fresh, delicious, and beautiful.
    I omitted the soppressata and I added a bit of kale to the salad for my lunch today to bulk it for lunch – very yum.

    My sister and I have made so many of your recipes – for everyday, special occasions and holidays – and they never disappoint and we always get praise.
    Thank you for another recipe rolodex worthy dish!

  36. Delicious! Will make again, I served it for dinner with homemade sourdough bread. I put the leftovers in several glass jars to snack on like Deb mentioned.

  37. Christine

    OK, to say “I made this” would be a bit of a stretch. I read the recipe and got excited – but then used what I had, which is to say canned chickpeas (the last of the quarantine stash!), fresh red pepper, celery, kohlrabi and pointy cabbage (thanks CSA!), and chives/garlic chives/rosemary/parsley from my garden, along with the salami I bought back in March as quarantine supplies and some crazy good Prairie Breeze cheese that I saw when I went back to our fancy cheese store for the first time earlier this week. But – I did use dried oregano, along with chive blossom vinegar I made in a fit of Martha-ness last month, and a huge glug of olive oil. What I ended up with is something that tastes a lot like the original Jersey Mike’s subs of my youth (#5, please, with extra spices and vinegar) but with chickpeas and way more veggies. It’s delicious. Thanks for the inspiration!

  38. Jane Hudkins

    Thanks for this bean salad recipe! Also bless you for your opening comments re: protests, BLM. Perfectly explained for a 10 yr and also for this 73 yo who feels the same way but sometimes gets speechless in response to expressed fears for property damage by those seemingly willing to overlook lost lives.

  39. Cleo

    Loved this recipe for my husband and I; so nice to have something cool and delicious at the same time. I made mine with red wine vinegar and it went just fine with the little bite.

  40. Margaret

    I’ve never been a fan of bean salads, but my husband likes them, so I decided to take a chance on this one. Oh it is so good! And beautiful! So very different from the bean salads of my youth. My only wish is that I had started broiling the peppers earlier because it felt a little rushed. Thank you for this beautiful dish!

  41. Laurie

    I made this with the 3-hour roasted tomatoes, as suggested by Deb in the comments earlier. I used two fairly small containers of small tomatoes in mixed colors.

    It is so good. The dressing is sublime; I suspect I’ll make that again.

  42. Liz

    I just made this – it was delicious! Fresh rosemary and oregano along with the garlic played wonderfully with the roasted peppers. I ate it piled on top of split focaccia bread, which was perfect for soaking up the juices. So good!

  43. It is a great crowd pleaser for a summer picnic. No mayo and it looks appetizing. It’s a filling and nutritous alternative to typical empty calorie sides. I recommend added some chopped basil to perk it up a little bit.

  44. Marry

    Had this for dinner tonight with Deb’s recipe for Eggplant with Yogurt & Tomato Relish, and it was so good with some sourdough garlic bread. Love the simplicity and the way the bitter radicchio blends in so well. I would use less olive oil and vinegar because I think it was too much. Highly recommend this as a dinner plan.

    1. Marry

      Regarding the “too much oil and vinegar”, I probably used less beans than the recipe calls for, I used 1 lb fresh before shelling cannellini beans.

  45. Lindsay

    Made this today to bring on our hike as part of a picknick lunch and we absolutely loved it! It’s light but filling, refreshing, and we’re very pleased there are still some leftovers in the fridge – the jars we took with us were empty in no time! Thanks for this recipe, it’s a keeper.

  46. MerryF

    Made this last night for dinner, and it was delicious. I used three bell peppers *and* a poblano, two cans cannellini beans and one can chickpeas, I subbed red wine vinegar (following some suggestions here) instead of sherry vinegar, and used fresh rosemary, oregano, and parsley from my garden. This is a great vegan/pareve side. We had it with grilled tuna steaks, and my husband even commented it’s hearty enough to stand on its own. The one thing I would mention is that it tasted a bit bland because — operator error — I didn’t know how much black pepper or red pepper flakes to use, so I’m sure I used too little. But we’re having the leftovers tomorrow evening and I think I’ll need another twist of two of black pepper, and maybe another half of squeezed lemon. I also like the idea of a diced red onion as someone mentioned.