This Three-Bean Salad Is a Great Side Dish — But Has Enough Flavor for a Main
Looking for a healthy twist on three-bean salad? Then try this beauty. It features edamame, which — combined with black beans and black-eyed peas — create a dish that is every bit as flavorful as it is nutritious.
Bean salads of any description are crowd pleasers around the world. Here in the US, they’re a favorite at summer picnic tables and winter pot-luck dinners alike.
This one makes a great side dish. But its flavor is so interesting that you can serve it as a main course, perhaps adding some nice bread and butter to complete the menu.
A healthy salad that’s easy to make, with flavor to spare: This one is a keeper.
Recipe: Healthy Edamame and Bean Salad
This is an extremely versatile salad. When made as directed, its flavor evokes the Southwest. With a couple of changes, it becomes Mediterranean. So by adding or subtracting a few ingredients, you can turn it into a new dish. Some variations are discussed in the Notes.
I first saw this recipe in the March 2007 issue of the late (and much lamented) Gourmet magazine. I subsequently found an online copy at Epicurious. The recipe is extremely good as written, although I like it better with my adaptations.
The dish takes 20 to 25 minutes to prepare, plus “resting” time of at least 10 minutes before serving. (You can also make it a day ahead.) This recipe yields 6 to 8 side-dish servings, or about half as many main-course servings. Leftovers keep for several days when refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 2 teaspoons salt (for edamame water)
- 1½ cups frozen shelled edamame (8 ounces)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice (about ¾ cup; or to taste)
- 1½ cups peeled and thinly sliced celery
- 1 - 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced fine (either green or fully ripe – red – work well; the red are prettier)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (depending on how juicy your limes are, you’ll need one or two)
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (or to taste)
- salt and black pepper to taste (you’ll want at least 1 teaspoon of salt, and a good ¼ teaspoon of pepper)
- ~¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but flavorful)
Read through the entire procedure before you start. I list the steps in the order that I prepare this dish; you may want to alter things somewhat.
- Fill a 1½- or 2-quart sauce pan ¾ full with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt, and then the edamame. Cook until tender — usually 4 to 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, open the cans of black beans and black-eyed peas into a colander or sieve that has been set in the sink. Rinse all the gunk off the beans, and place them in a heat-proof bowl.
- When the edamame are cooked, drain into a colander, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Add to the bowl containing the beans.
- Dice the onion; wash, peel, and thinly slice the celery; peel and mince the garlic; and add all to the bowl with the beans.
- Wash jalapeño peppers and cut lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop into very small dice (or use mini food processor). Add to the bowl, and then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Juice the limes, and add the juice to the bowl with the bean mixture.
- Wash, dry, and mince cilantro and set aside (don’t add to the bowl with the beans — you’ll do that in Step 10; see Notes).
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium to medium-low heat until hot (but not smoking). Add cumin and stir, cooking until it browns slightly and you smell its fragrance — no more than 30 seconds.
- Let the oil cool for a minute or two (you don’t want it to wilt the onion or celery), then pour into the bowl with the beans and toss briefly to coat.
- Add minced cilantro, salt, black pepper, and optional cayenne pepper and toss well until thoroughly incorporated into the other ingredients. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving so the flavors can mingle.
- Edamame are green (unripened) soy beans picked in the pod. You can buy them in the pod, but it’s much more convenient to buy them already shelled. Most grocery stores sell frozen edamame, and that’s the most convenient way to buy them. Occasionally, you also see fresh edamame in the produce department.
- You can prepare this dish several hours ahead if you wish. Let it sit at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Bring it out ½ hour before serving so it comes to room temperature.
- You can also prepare this dish the night before.
- Why set the cilantro aside (Step 7) rather than immediately adding it to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl? Because the warm oil that you add to the bowl (Step 9) may turn the cilantro a few shades darker. It will eventually turn darker anyway (as it reacts with the lime juice), but at least this way you can start out with a brighter green.
- Heating the cumin in olive oil (Step 8) flavors the oil and intensifies the flavor of the cumin. When you mix the oil into the salad, it carries the cumin flavor. This technique is often used in Indian cooking.
- Speaking of Indian cooking: Ground coriander (a common Indian spice) works well in this salad. Simply add a teaspoon or so to the skillet with the cumin in Step 8.
- Don’t like cilantro? Substitute parsley. If you’re doing this, however, I’d also substitute lemon juice for lime, and thyme for cumin to give the salad a more Mediterranean taste (in which case, skip Step 8 entirely — there’s no need to heat the thyme in oil).
- If you substitute lemon juice and thyme (or another Mediterranean herb), I suggest using white beans (like cannellini) instead of black beans.
- If you’re going the Mediterranean route, you might also want to add some pitted black olives to this salad.
- I often add corn to this dish (about a cup and a half). If using leftover cooked corn, add it to the bowl with the beans in Step 2. If using frozen corn, cook it with the edamame in Step 1.
- If you add corn, you may want to up the amount of oil and lime juice just a little — maybe another tablespoon of oil, plus another teaspoon (or a bit more) of lime juice.
- You can also replace half the celery with diced carrots, making this an even more colorful salad.
Add This One to the Picnic-Salad Roster
Grilled meat may be the star of a cookout, but it’s really side dishes that carry the day. And this salad deserves to join the regular picnic-salad rotation, IMO. With Labor Day coming up, you may want to give this dish a supporting role at your festivities.
Other good sides include the dish we did last week, Summer Pasta Salad, or Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad, or Mustard Potato Salad. For more suggestions on cookout salads, just scroll down to the end of this post and browse through the links.
And of course, what’s a cookout without coleslaw? Creamy Cole Slaw is probably most people’s favorite, but this year for our Labor Day bash we’re thinking about something different: Garlic Coleslaw. It’s great at summer picnics, but it’s also perfect for football tailgates.
So grab some cabbage and stock up on garlic. Then you’ll be ready to make this terrific dish when I post about it next week.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Summer Pasta Salad
Tuna Pasta Salad
White Bean and Tuna Salad
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Roast Strawberry Salad
Spinach Salad with Parmesan
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Creamy Cole Slaw
Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad
Mustard Potato Salad
French Potato Salad
American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad
German Potato Salad with Bacon
Potato Salad Basics
Barbecued Pork Steaks