This summer-fresh vegan delight works as a main or side
Local tomatoes and cucumbers are at their seasonal peak right now in our part of the world. So we take every opportunity to enjoy them, often tossing with oil and vinegar to make a simple, quick salad.
But sometimes we want a heartier dish. So we add white beans to the mix—turning a simple salad into a great picnic side dish, one that can also stand alone as a meatless main.
It’s easy, healthy, and bursting with fresh flavor. Not to mention vegan and gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy it. That’s summer at its best.
Recipe: Tomato, Cucumber, and White Bean Salad
Exact measurements aren’t critical for this recipe. In fact, we typically just eyeball quantities when we make this salad. When the mix of ingredients “looks” right, it generally is.
Prep time for this recipe is 10 to 15 minutes. You can serve it immediately or let it chill in the fridge for an hour or so (it’s good both ways).
This recipe makes enough for about 4 hearty main-course servings, or 8 servings if you’re using it as a side or starter.
Leftovers keep for 2 or 3 days if refrigerated in an airtight container (though the quality declines somewhat after the first day).
- 1 15-ounce can white beans (see Notes for choices)
- ~1 pound tomatoes (slicing tomatoes, or cherry or grape tomatoes, or a mix)
- 1 large cucumber
- ½ red onion (you can substitute yellow; see Notes for additional substitutions)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- ~5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (very approximate—you need to rely on your own taste buds for this)
- ~2 tablespoons lemon juice or wine vinegar
- salt to taste (several big pinches of Kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper (several grinds for us; see Notes)
- Open the can of beans, drain them, and then rinse. (We usually pour the beans into a strainer over the sink to make this easier.) Add the beans to a largish bowl (big enough to hold the finished salad).
- Wash and dry the tomatoes. If using grape or cherry tomatoes, cut them into halves or quarters. If using larger tomatoes, cut them into chunks or dice of ½-inch or so. Try to lose some of the seeds and watery pulp along the way—they really don’t add anything to the salad. Add the tomatoes to the beans.
- Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half lengthwise, then (using a dessert spoon) scoop out the seeds. Slice the halves across their width (into half-moon shaped slices ¼-inch thick or less). Or just dice the halves into cubes. Add the cucumber to the beans and tomatoes.
- Peel the onion, then cut it into dice of about ¼-inch. We suggest using half a red onion (but if you like more onion, by all means use the entire thing). Add the onion to the bowl. (You may want to reserve a few thin slices of onion for garnish.)
- Wash and dry the parsley. Pick off the leaves, discarding the stems. Mince the parsley leaves finely, then add them to the bowl.
- Toss all the ingredients together to mix, then start adding the extra virgin olive oil. Don’t add it all at once—because you really don’t know how much you’re going to need. We suggest that you start with about 3 tablespoons, toss it with the other ingredients, and then taste. What you want is a thin—THIN—coat of olive oil on all the ingredients in the bowl. When you take a bite, you should taste ingredients first, olive oil second. Add just enough oil to reach this state.
- Next, drizzle in wine vinegar or lemon juice. Again, add less than you think you’ll need. Toss, and taste, then add more if necessary.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste, and toss to incorporate. (Alternatively, you can add these after you’ve added the oil and before you add the wine vinegar or lemon juice.)
- Taste the salad, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve. Or refrigerate the salad for an hour or so before serving.
- You can use any kind of white bean that you like in this salad. Cannellini or Great Northerns are our favorites.
- We haven’t tried garbanzo beans in this dish, but suspect they’d be great.
- BTW, if you want a more substantial salad, just double the amount of beans.
- Any shape of tomato works in this dish. But you really will taste the tomatoes, so don’t bother making this salad if you can’t find ones that have great flavor.
- Fortunately, you can usually find some decent tomatoes, even if you’re making this salad out of season. Off-season Campari tomatoes, as well as grape and cherry tomatoes, often have good flavor.
- If you don’t want to use red or yellow onions in this dish, you can substitute green onions (scallions) or shallots. Or just leave them out altogether.
- Fresh basil makes a nice substitute for parsley. Or you could use fresh dill.
- How much salt and black pepper to add? Enough so the salad tastes good to you. We offer suggested quantities, but in truth we never add exactly the same amount two times running. So just season until your taste buds tell you the dish is “right.”
Summertime, When the Eating is Easy
“Love all the salads we’ve been having lately,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This one is terrific—loads of flavor, and filling enough for a main course.”
“It’s similar to our White Bean and Quinoa Salad,” I said. “Although I think this one has more flavor.”
“I can’t decide what I like better, this dish or that wonderful BLT Pasta with Goat Cheese you made a few weeks ago,” said Mrs K R.
“Tough choice,” I agreed. “There’s also that Sautéed Corn with Chilies and Bacon recipe we did earlier this summer.”
“That one’s terrific,” said Mrs K R. “But let’s not forget some of the dishes we made in late spring. Like Pepper Coleslaw with Garlic Vinaigrette and Summer Green Bean Salad.”
“Maybe we should make them all again and have a taste-off,” I said. “We still have a few weeks of summer left.”
“Let’s do it!” said Mrs K R. “But first, how about another helping of this beauty?”
“Coming right up,” I said. “Always happy to serve another plateful of summer.”
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Summer Green Bean Salad
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