Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet


By Freya Bellin

There’s no joking here with the superlative in the title of this recipe. It is truly the easiest salad ever. And what’s even better is that it’s also the most versatile. There are endless ways to vary a basic vinaigrette (see suggestions below), so you’ll never get tired of experimenting with flavors. My favorite addition is about a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard to the recipe below.

These salads do well mixed with other ingredients, too, like extra veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.). I really like combining both beans and grains into one salad and serving that over mixed greens—it makes for an easy lunch to pack. I find that I need a little more dressing for the grains than the beans, since they absorb the liquid. It’s worth just making extra dressing if you think you’ll use it within a few days. Homemade is so much better than the bottled stuff. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 10 minutes with cooked or canned beans or grains

You could make bean or grain salad every day for the rest of your life without making it the same way twice. A simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley is a great place to start, but the possibilities are endless (see the variations below).

Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

1⁄4 cup olive oil, or to taste

1⁄4 cup chopped red onion or shallot

Salt and black pepper

4 cups cooked or canned beans, drained, or cooked grains, or a combination

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Put the lemon juice, oil, onion, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. If you’ve just cooked the beans or grains, add them to the dressing while they are still hot. Toss gently until the beans or grains are coated, adding more oil or lemon juice if you like.

2. Let cool to room temperature (or refrigerate), stirring every now and then to redistribute the dressing. Stir in the parsley just before serving, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

More Vinaigrettes

Now that you know the standard recipe, here are some ideas to break the rules. For starters, try varying the vinegar and oil. For example, go with rice vinegar or lime juice and a neutral vegetable oil for use with Asian flavors and dishes (a few drops of sesame oil and/or soy sauce mixed in is lovely). Balsamic is nice with olive oil, as is good-quality red or white wine vinegar. Citrus juice also makes a terrific vinaigrette; you’ll just need to add a little more.

Then play around with the extra ingredients. Instead of the shallot, try garlic, ginger, lemongrass, wasabi, fresh horseradish, or the white part of scallions. Peeled soft stone fruit—like peaches or plums—make slightly sweet and colorful additions, as do roasted bell peppers. Nuts add body and, well, nuttiness. And finally, consider the spices: Curry or chili powder, cumin or coriander, and even cinnamon or nutmeg (in small doses) are especially good with cooked vegetable or other hearty salads.


Posted in Produce, Recipes


  1. suvirsaran said...

    do not show this to James Oseland or he will call it bland and boring. But perhaps if you make him taste it, and can broadcast his facial expressions sharing his disdain of the dish, you may find new converts to the joys of beautiful grains and legumes and beans…. That is what happened with my veggie burger. He called it bland out of lack of interest or thought – and without knowing the power of his reactions, he made me a gazillion fans for my burger. HEHE! This looks yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  2. KayGardiner said...

    When dressing grains, add water to the dressing to deal with the absorption issue without over-dressing the salad. I add as much as a half cup of water to the other vinaigrette ingredients. My fave combo: cooked farro, shelled edamame, sliced cherry tomatoes, and baby peas with a red wine vinaigrette, served on arugula, or with a bag of arugula mixed into the salad.

  3. Chris Hansen said...

    When you say ‘cooked grains’ what do you suggest? Rice?

  4. Bernie Michalik said...

    This is a great idea. I’d like to add that sometimes I will make a warm vinegrette. For example, I will saute an onion or a handful of sliced mushrooms in the olive oil until soft, then proceed with this recipe, topping up the oil if needed (since the vegetables will absorb some of the oil). FWIW, I have more details here:http://berniemichalik.posterous.com/thought-on-becoming-a-latent-vegetarian-inclu

  5. Cindie White-Weiss said...

    Avoid using too much oil. Try substituting vegetable broth or the previously mentioned citrus juice instead. This would make a much more heart-healthy salad.

  6. Karen Greig said...

    Sure wish these postings showed up on your Facebook feed…

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