Jacquelynne Steves

Un-Recipe: Summer Bean Salad


What’s an “Un-Recipe,” you may ask? Well, it’s the way my mom and grandmothers cooked (and probably yours did, too.) They never used a recipe unless they were baking. When it was time to make dinner, they just knew what worked and they were the Queens of Kitchen Improvisation

My Summer Bean Salad is one of those recipes that I can throw together just about any time during the summer. I always have canned beans in my pantry- for salads in the summer and chili and soups and stews in the fall and winter. The other ingredients I also usually have around- but if something is missing from your pantry or garden, don’t fret! Just leave it out. The one thing that will be hard to substitute is the fresh herbs- the fresh greeny-ness of them just feels like summer and lightens up the whole dish. I am so lucky to have an assortment of herbs in my garden. However, if you don’t have fresh herbs and don’t want to go to the store, you can use bottled Italian dressing in place of the garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar. Super quick and still quite tasty!! Just dress the salad very lightly with the Italian dressing- it can be much too salty and overpowering if you use too much.

And guess what? This is super healthy (and gluten free)- but your taste buds will never know it!

Here are the “suggested” ingredients for this Summer Bean Salad:

2 cans (approximately 15 oz each) beans, rinsed and drained (I like to use 2 different kinds so that my salad is colorful & pretty- in this case I used one can of black beans and one can of Cannelini beans.)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion (I prefer red or purple onion because it’s pretty, but if all you have is a white or yellow onion, that’s fine. Spring onions (scallions) would also be pretty, even a shallot will work)

1 cup corn– of course, fresh would be best, but frozen will work fine (no need to defrost- just throw it in frozen), and in a pinch you can use a can of corn with all of the liquid drained

1 cup chopped tomato (beefsteak, plum, cherry tomatoes, whatever. Chop it up and toss it in.)

1-2 cloves garlic (again, fresh is obviously best, but if you don’t have it and you don’t want to make a trip to the market, a dash or 2 of garlic powder will do it)

1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (good ones to try are parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano, or tarragon. I happen to love parsley and cilantro.)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar (I like Balsamic, you can use red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, etc. Or, hey, skip the vinegar and use lemon juice. It’s an un-recipe.)

Salt and pepper to taste


Toss it all together in a bowl. That’s it. Really. Makes about 3 cups.

You can serve it as a “salsa” with chips, or as a side dish along with fish or chicken, or make a giant bowl to take to your next potluck or barbecue. You can even toss in some shredded cheese right before serving and place it over a nice bed of lettuce for a light meatless meal.

Do you have any “go to” recipes that you always make sure you have the ingredients for? Or any “un-recipes” that you could make in your sleep??









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    Teresa in Music City
    Posted July 4, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Yum!!! I’m going to have to try this :*)

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      Posted July 4, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Let me know if you like it, Teresa. Last night we had it with fish for dinner- it made me feel really healthy and virtuous ha ha.

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    Posted July 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    This looks so light and flavorful! I bet it would go well with many different entrees….yummy!

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      Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      I had it with fish for dinner the first night, then the next day I had it by itself as a light lunch. Everyone in the family really likes it :)

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    Posted May 9, 2018 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jacqueline, enjoyed reading your post and especially the recipe for summer beans. I make those also and I totally love them, and like you I add and leave out anything I don’t have. I also use a can of green beans in mine to get some extra color and I will also use chickpeas, kidney bean, northeren beans etc. To save time with making the sauce, I use a bottle of Wishbone Italian Dressing and they are so good. I like the Wish bone because it’s quick and it is a little sweeter than other italian dressings. Just thought I would pass along a tip for when you are in a hurry!

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