Everyday Eats & Sweets / Recipes

Three Bean Summer Salad

Three bean summer salad

Around this time of year, I always get an overabundance of one particular crop. Last summer, it was zucchini. This summer, it’s beans.

Three-bean harvest

Spring rainstorms flooded a few of my bush bean seedlings back in April, and who knew that every single seed I stuck in the ground to replace them would each grow into a ridiculously productive plant? I never got around to thinning out the seedlings, and now, all 15 of my plants are nearly falling over with bundles of beans on their branches.

The upside is that it’s summer, and summer means salads. My three bean summer salad (made with another seasonal staple, sweet corn) can feed a whole crowd of hungry friends, travels well to picnics, and makes a light and refreshing side to all those heavy and smoky meats you find on a summer grill.

I used Royal Burgundy, Dragon Tongue, and Beurre de Rocquencourt beans from my garden. You can use any kind of string bean, wax bean, long bean, or even canned beans (like kidney and garbanzo) in this recipe, but I do recommend using three different beans in three different colors for a nice presentation. For corn, I cheated and used canned corn because my Country Gentleman sweet corn wasn’t ripe yet, but I think the addition of grilled corn (shaved off the cob) would be amazing!

Three Bean Summer Salad

Makes 8 servings


For the Salad
2 1/2 pounds mixed fresh beans
2 stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups sweet corn kernels
Chile pepper, minced, to taste (optional)

For the Dressing
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon stone ground Dijon mustard


I usually don’t weigh my ingredients, but I couldn’t resist using this vintage scale from my fiancé’s mother!

Weighing out beans on a vintage scale

If you pick your beans while they’re still young and tender, there’s no need to do anything beyond washing and drying them.

If some of your beans are a bit more mature, you can blanch them to slightly tenderize them while maintaining crispness. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop them in for three minutes, then immediately plunge them into a bath of ice water for at least three minutes.

You’ll notice that some of the purple was blanched out of the beans; this is typical of purple beans.

Blanch beans for three minutes

Plunge the blanched beans into a bath of ice water

Trim off the ends and cut your beans into bite-sized lengths.

Trim off ends and cut into bite-sized lengths

Mix in the celery, onions, and sweet corn (and chile pepper, if using — I added a little serrano for a spicy kick).

Mix in celery and onions

Mix in sweet corn kernels

Whisk together the dressing, then pour over your salad and toss well.

Whisk together the dressing

Toss the salad with dressing

You can dig in now, but it’s even better if you let the salad sit for a couple of hours and marinate. This is the perfect make-ahead dish because the flavors develop deeper the next day with none of that soggy saladness. Use it as an excuse to host a summer-lovin’ BBQ at your house!

Let the salad marinate for a couple of hours before eating

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Jesse Chappus
    August 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Those beans look fantastic! I’m going to give this recipe a try using honey instead of the sugar.

    Thanks for sharing Betty 🙂

    • Linda Ly
      August 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Agave syrup would make a nice substitute too. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Kate Moore
    August 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    My early summer crop is just starting to flower. I’ve been pulling snow peas off for about two weeks and there’s plenty more to start going in for our summer. Yum.

  • Kaitlin Jenkins
    August 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    This looks so yummy! Beans are underrated, and sometimes hard to know what to do with. I grew dragon beans last year, aren’t they beautiful!

    • Linda Ly
      August 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      They’re one of my favorites!

  • Gretchen Johnson
    August 5, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Thanks for the ideas.  We just received a big bag of mixed beans from our CSA.  Add to it our own backyard beans, and it will be a great side dish for an upcoming party this week!

    • Linda Ly
      August 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Ohhh, that should look (and taste) wonderful!


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