A better 3-bean salad

A better bean salad

Picnic-friendly bean salad without the sugar

I love three-bean salad — the kind we used to make in the Midwest as a picnic staple. Thing is, your typical three-bean salad recipe calls for about 3/4-cup of sugar — crazy! So I’ve been playing around with bean salads trying to get that same sweet/sour taste without the refined sugar. I think this one is pretty darn good. The sweetness comes from fresh corn, not sugar. Sunflower seeds add nuttiness and crunch.

Healthier 3-bean salad

1 pound fresh green beans

1 pound fresh wax beans

2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (get a brand with no sugar)

1 medium red onion, diced

Small bunch of cilantro, chopped coarsely

For the dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbls. minced garlic


Top with

Sunflower seeds

Chopped avocado


De-stem the green and wax beans and snap each in half. Steam for three minutes on the stove-top or in the microwave. Shock with cold water and dump in a big bowl. Add the corn (no need to cook it), red onion, kidney beans and chopped cilantro.

In a small covered bowl or jar, combine dressing ingredients. Shake until emulsified. Pour half of the dressing over the salad and taste; add more if you like. Save extra for another salad.

This is one of those salads that tastes even better if you refrigerate it for a couple of hours, but it’s not required. Just before serving, sprinkle with 1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds (more if you want) and the chopped avocado.

Makes a side dish for eight

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