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Easy Mediterranean White Bean Salad

overhead shot of a salad bowl with cannellini beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a spoon set inside the right bottom side of the bowl.


Mediterranean White Bean Salad is an easy, healthy dish you’ll love! Tender cannellini beans are marinated in a fabulously flavorful garlic and shallot dressing, with colorful bell peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

overhead shot of a salad bowl with cannellini beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a spoon set inside the right bottom side of the bowl.

Healthy, Hearty, and Absolutely Addictive!

Most of us tend to think of leafy greens when we think salad, and there’s a good reason for that – everyone loves a colorful, lettuce-based garden salad. But there’s so much more to love about salads, you know? This easy Mediterranean White Bean Salad is a case in point. Made with tender cannellini beans and a medley of flavorful veggies and aromatics, it’s the perfect light lunch, side dish, appetizer, even an easy main course!

To make things even easier, we are using canned beans to make this delicious and refreshing salad. From there, all you have to do is blanch them, soak them, and let the salad rest for a bit before serving. That way, the flavors have a chance to meld and blend. Let’s do this!

overhead shot of a salad bowl with cannellini beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Ingredients

This salad is so flavorful, mostly thanks to the dressing. Shallots may not be a super-common ingredient in your kitchen, but after this, you’ll want to sprinkle them into everything!

  • Olive Oil: A little bit for cooking the garlic, and a bit more for the dressing.
  • Garlic: Freshly minced is best, but you could also use minced garlic from a jar. 
  • Cannellini Beans: Two cans, well rinsed and thoroughly drained. You could also pre-cook your beans the day before, if you prefer to use dried beans.
  • Water
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vinegar: Red wine vinegar is especially great in this recipe, but you can substitute any vinegar you have – apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, rice vinegar, etc.
  • Lemon Juice: Again, fresh is preferred, but lemon juice that’s been bottled would be fine.
  • Shallot: Peel and mince a small shallot. 
  • Bell Pepper: Wash and cut a small red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper into ¼-inch pieces. If you need to use a green or orange bell pepper, that will also work.
  • Tomatoes: I like to use quartered cherry tomatoes, but you could use any kind of tomato cut into bite-sized pieces. 
  • Basil and Parsley: Chopped, fresh basil gives the dish a special fragrance that’s sweet, herbal, and peppery all at once. Chopped parsley adds a little depth and a wholesome, savory vibe. If you need to use dried herbs, they will still taste good, just not quite as zesty.
a glass mixing bowl with cannellini beans.

What Beans Are Similar to Cannellini Beans?

You can substitute just about any bean variety in this recipe. If you’re looking for a substitute that’s similar to cannellini beans, Great Northerns are probably your best bet. But garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), baby lima beans, black-eyed peas, and all kinds of other tasty beans would also be perfect.

How to Make Mediterranean White Bean Salad

The secret to this recipe is lightly cooking the beans. This really brings out their best flavor and helps them taste freshly-made, instead of canned.

  • Cook the Garlic. Place a saucepan or a skillet pan over medium heat, and add a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil. Let the oil heat, and then add the garlic. Cook it for a bit, letting it turn golden. Be extremely careful not to burn it because burned garlic tastes very bitter. 
  • Heat the Beans with the Garlic. Next, add the rinsed and drained beans into the saucepan, along with two cups of water. Sprinkle with salt, and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture simmers, turn the heat off and let the beans stand for 15 minutes, covered.
  • Make the Dressing. While the beans soak, whisk the rest of the olive oil with the vinegar, lemon juice, and shallots. Let the dressing stand for 15 minutes as well.
  • Assemble the Salad. Once the beans and dressing have had time to stand, drain the beans and pour them into the bowl with the dressing. Stir in the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Rest One More Time. Let the salad rest for 15 to 20 minutes longer, before you serve it.
overhead shot of a salad bowl with cannellini beans, chopped tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Recipe Notes

As you can imagine, a simple bean salad like this is almost endlessly customizable. Here are just a few ways to change it up:

  • Add More Veggies: This is my simplest tip – just add more veggies! Celery, cucumber, and even cabbage would work. Artichoke hearts or marinated mushrooms would be spectacular!
  • Add Cheese: Crumbled feta, cubed cheddar, little fresh mozzarella balls – anything would work here, and would be amazing.
  • Add Grains: Farro, bulgur, rice, pasta – do your thing! This is an easy way to bulk up the salad and make it even more filling.

What Goes with White Bean Salad?

This salad is a super nourishing choice, and if you’d like to add a few other items to the menu, these easy recipes will get your culinary wheels turning.

  • Simple Chicken Breast: Salad with chicken breast? What could be simpler, or more delicious? I swear by this no-fail method for Juicy Stovetop Chicken Breasts.
  • Bacon: You already knew that bacon makes everything better – so why not serve it up, crispy and hot, with this cold and refreshing veggie salad? Beans, bacon, salad – so good. Want to make it easy? Make Air Fryer Bacon – easy cleanup, and perfect every time. 🥓
  • Bread: A juicy salad like this cries out for some homemade bread to sop up all that goodness. For a quick meal, just whip up some garlic toast. If you have a little more time, try this Whole Wheat Focaccia
close up overhead shot of a salad bowl with cannellini beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a spoon set inside the right bottom side of the bowl.

Storing Instructions

  • This hardy, but light salad is great for making ahead, because it stays good (in your fridge, of course) for four to five days! Just keep it in an airtight container, and serve cold.

Can I Freeze This Dish?

  • If you leave out the bell pepper and cherry tomatoes, you can actually freeze the salad for up to 3 months! I recommend storing it in freezer bags, with as much air pressed out as possible.
  • Thaw in the fridge before adding the bell pepper and tomatoes.

ENJOY!

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Resting Time 35 mins

Total Time 1 hr

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan (or a high sided pan) set over medium heat.

  • Add garlic to the heated oil and cook for 30 seconds, stirring, until garlic is a golden brown but not burnt.

  • Add beans to the saucepan; stir, and add 2 cups water. Season with salt and bring to a simmer.

  • Remove from heat; cover and let stand 15 minutes.

  • In the meantime, in a large salad bowl whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and shallot. Let stand 15 minutes.

  • Drain the beans and rinse under cold water; then add the beans to the shallot dressing.

  • Stir in the bell peppers, tomatoes, basil, parsley, and fresh ground black pepper.

  • Gently toss to combine.

  • Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust.

  • Let salad sit for about 20 minutes before serving.

  • Serve cold.

Calories: 153 kcal | Carbohydrates: 20 g | Protein: 7 g | Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Sodium: 528 mg | Potassium: 143 mg | Fiber: 6 g | Sugar: 2 g | Vitamin A: 573 IU | Vitamin C: 39 mg | Calcium: 77 mg | Iron: 3 mg | Net Carbs: 14 g

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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