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Recipes: Bean salads perfect for your next cookout

Heating the beans is the trick to flavorful dishes starring chickpeas, black beans, or kidney beans.

Turkish Chickpea SaladConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Versatile, hearty, and comforting, canned beans make a perfect salad base for your next cookout — once you master how to boost their flavor. Our trick? Heat the beans so they swell and better absorb the dressings as they cool. After microwaving, black beans soak up the flavors of charred tomatoes, scallions, and a bright lime dressing. Umami-rich sun-dried tomatoes — along with sliced red onion, lemon juice, and fresh basil and parsley — lend intense flavor, to our spin on a Turkish chickpea salad. And Georgian lobio pairs ground fennel and coriander with kidney beans for a better version of the classic three-bean salad.


Turkish Chickpea Salad

Makes 4 servings

In this version of nohut piyazi, we use Aleppo pepper, a coarsely ground red pepper with mild heat and notes of dried fruit and cumin; tangy, fruity, brick-red ground sumac is made from the dried berries of the sumac bush. Both are commonly used in Turkish cooking and are sold in spice shops and most well-stocked supermarkets. If Aleppo pepper isn’t available, substitute ¾ teaspoon sweet paprika plus ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper and garnish with additional paprika; simply omit the sumac if you can’t find it.

It’s essential to heat the chickpeas and seasonings in the microwave and allow them to cool before completing the salad. The chickpeas expand when warmed; as they cool, they absorb the seasonings so that each bite is flavorful.

This salad is great served as a side to grilled meats, seafood, or kebabs, or offer it as a light main course, with warmed flatbread.

2 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, plus more to serve (see headnote)

1 teaspoon ground sumac

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced


1 medium garlic clove, finely grated

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced

1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil, thinly sliced

1/3 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chickpeas, oil, cumin, Aleppo pepper, sumac, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 1½ to 2 minutes. Uncover, then stir and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, and lemon juice; let stand for at least 10 minutes, or until the chickpeas have cooled.

Add the cooled chickpea mixture to the onion mixture, along with the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and parsley. Stir, then taste and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with additional oil, and sprinkle with additional Aleppo pepper.

Black Bean Salad With Scallions and Charred TomatoesConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Black Bean Salad With Scallions and Charred Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

Charring grape or cherry tomatoes in a hot skillet gives them a subtle smokiness and intensifies their sweetness and flavor. This salad goes great with grilled pork or beef.

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

2 15½-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup lime juice

1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro OR flat-leaf parsley

2 ounces queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)

Warm a 12-inch skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the skins split and char; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, toss the beans with ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 1½ to 2 minutes. Immediately add the tomatoes, scallions, oil, and lime juice; toss, then season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature, stirring once or twice. Stir in the cilantro. Serve sprinkled with the queso fresco.


Kidney Bean Salad With Spiced Vinaigrette and HerbsConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Kidney Bean Salad With Spiced Vinaigrette and Herbs

Makes 6 servings

Georgian kidney bean salad is spiced and herbal, not sugary like American three-bean salad. Toasted walnuts add crunch that contrasts the starchy creaminess of the beans. For convenience, we use canned kidney beans, but, as with the previous recipes, we heat them in the microwave before tossing them with the dressing. Be sure to cover the beans before microwaving so they don’t dry out. And stir them halfway through so they heat evenly.

If you can’t find ground fennel, grind your own by processing 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds in a spice grinder until powdery.

2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

1 teaspoon dry mustard

½ cup walnuts

4 15½-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

½ cup roughly chopped fresh dill

½ cup roughly chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more to serve


In a small bowl, stir together the shallots and vinegar; set aside. In a 10-inch skillet set over medium heat, combine the coriander, fennel, and dry mustard, then toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the walnuts to the same skillet and toast over medium, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.

While the nuts cool, in a large, microwave-safe bowl, toss the beans with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high just until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through.

To the hot beans, add the shallot-vinegar mixture, the toasted spices, the oil, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Toss, then let stand for 5 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.

Roughly chop the walnuts, then reserve about half for sprinkling. Add the remaining walnuts to the bean mixture along with the dill, parsley, and cilantro. Toss to combine, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter, then sprinkle with the reserved walnuts and additional cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.