Curried Bean Salad Recipe

This bean salad recipe salad features pretty heirloom beans along with a few black lentils, splashed with a brightly-flavored ginger-curry vinaigrette.

Curried Bean Salad

A bean salad will be as ordinary or extraordinary as the beans you start with. There's nothing wrong with using canned beans, but if good quality dried beans are parked just next door (and you get more beans for the money), it might be time to trade up. Trust me, it's like going from driving a Hyundai to a BMW. This salad features pretty Pebble beans alongside thinner-skinned Mayacoba and a few black lentils, all splashed with a brightly-flavored ginger-curry vinaigrette. You can certainly play around with the types of beans you use, I had two types of beans cooked up, and some black lentils in the freezer. With a minimal amount of chopping and a touch of whisking the salad came together in just a few minutes.

The Pebble beans are delightful to look at, a lot of fun to cook with, and although their colors and marks fade a bit during the cooking process in the end they still retain a nice amount of visual flair. The beans (from a single bush - not a blend) range in color from ivory to pale mustard, fleshy-pinks to cocoa colored. The second bean I used was the Mayacoba, a seductive pale mustard color when dried, they lose most of that in the hot water. This Peruvian bean works well in a salad like this because it's a cameleon of sorts, quite adaptable, nice texture, and it tends to take on the flavors around it - in this case the curry dressing.

More often than not the beans I use are from Rancho Gordo. Steve and his crew sell at my local market and I've cooked my way through many of his beans (which are also available via mail order). Steve's latest Rancho Gordo endeavor is an heirloom bean cookbook published by Chronicle Books - and it looks like it is shipping any day now. I'll feature a recipe from it as soon as I get my hands on a copy.

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Curried Bean Salad Recipe

The key to cooking beans from scratch for a salad like this, is to cook them until tender, but not until they are falling apart. Feel free to make the curry vinaigrette a day or two in advance. If you like a creamier dressing, toss a big dollop of Greek yogurt into the curried vinaigrette, taste, and go from there. I use black lentils here because they hold their shape quite well, you definitely don't want to use a bean or lentil that goes to mush.

3 cups cooked beans - I used equal amounts Pebble beans and Mayacoba beans, but you could certainly use white beans, black beans, black eyed beans, whatever - I bet edamame would be great in this salad. And while I like to cook my beans from their dried state, this is a forgiving salad and canned beans that have been well rinsed will work too. You can serve this salad hot or at room temperature, whatever your preference.

1 cup cooked black lentils*
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced into crescents
3/4 cup celery, chopped

1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon of fine-grain sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (from 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl toss the beans, black lentils, red onion, and celery. Make the curry vinaigrette by mashing the garlic clove with the salt into a thick paste. In a bowl or jar whisk together this garlic paste, the curry powder, fresh ginger, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk well, taste, and add adjust flavors/salt if needed. Pour about half of the dressing over the beans and give it all a toss. Add more dressing a bit at a time until it is to your liking. Taste, make sure the salad has enough salt or the the beans will taste flat and the rest of the flavors won't pop. I like to serve this salad family style in a big bowl or on a platter with a big spoon all sprinkled with cilantro.

Serves about 4 - 6 as a side.

*Wash and pick over the lentils. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with water using 2-3x the quantity of lentils. Bring to a boil, scale back the heat a bit and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste along the way, when done the lentils should be tender but not splitting apart. Salt to taste at this point. Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Dear Heidi, I would love to post on this site, but I don't know how to do this! I have an unusual (but very good) recipe for hummus that I came up with on my own, after some experimentation! Your latest recipe sounds yummy, and it appears as if lots of your readers are interested in some of the basics in preparing any type of dried beans from scratch. Please note: the recipe I want to post contains homemade chicken broth, therefore it might not be suitable for all of your readers. However, I've been reading some previous commentary, and I think some people might be interested in making various bean recipes using homemade broth made from chicken, beef, pork, or fish broths. How do I post? All best, Lauren


me 2 favorite things... beans and currie!!!

delicious chronicles

I don't know if you're intending to, but your comments thread is displaying commenters' email addresses. And the recipe looks and sounds delicious. I just bought some Pebble Beans from Rancho Gordo last week and have been pondering how to prepare them. Thanks!


You can cut the time down to under two hours from dried bean to cooked bean -- I never soak overnight anymore, and always use the pressure cooker. Just rinse and sort the beans, then put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water, let sit an hour. Then pressure cook. Time varies depending on the bean, but in general you can cut the pressure time by about 20% if they've had the 1-hour soak (and they'll have a firmer texture, be more whole). You can do black beans WITHOUT SOAKING AT ALL in 45 minutes in the pressure cooker; 25 minutes for unsoaked chickpeas, 15-18 minutes if soaked. I can have black bean burritos on the table an hour after I walk in the door.


We have overdone bean salad this summer in other words we are sick of, so I was worried about my partner throwing it at me if I made another bean salad... BUT...OMG! I made this bean salad yesterday for company with a mix of the beans I had in the house and the seasoning you suggested. Everyone was going CRAZY for it! We love it! It was a whole different experience for our palettes! Thanks Heidi!


We have overdone bean salad this summer in other words we are sick of, so I was worried about my partner throwing it at me if I made another bean salad... BUT...OMG! I made this bean salad yesterday for company with a mix of the beans I had in the house and the seasoning you suggested. Everyone was going CRAZY for it! We love it! It was a whole different experience for our palettes! Thanks Heidi!


Great! If you're a straight vegan, beans is one of the best sources of proteins.

Mrs. Sound

This is really interesting. The different beans really do give it an interesting visual appeal, and the curry powder dressing is different.

Fearless Kitchen

The dish looks really yummy but i'm a stranger to some ingredients however wil try it out. i'm a vegetarian n a foodaholic. so thank u so much


I made it last night. Delicious! I couldn't believe something so simple can be so tasty. I'm folowing your site for a while now and everytime I decide to cook something from here I am amazed how easy to cook is and tasty and healthy. Congrats! You're one of a kind!


Oh this looks good! I am obsessed with beans! I will probably have to give this a go, I have no choice.

Hot Garlic

I love beans and would love to know how to cook or how long so they don't fall apart. Because I've never made dried beans for anything else other than to go with rice. Canned beans never fall apart, even in soups. Help please, what's the trick? Love your blog and your photography ! Yum, Courtney


@ Alison: Here in Mexico we eat plenty of beans, I have grown watching my mom and grandma preparing them, so I'm pretty familiar with the process. You need to start any recipe with beans the night before. Put 1 or 2 cups of dried beans in a large bowl, and add the double amount of water. Let them soak overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the beans over a colander. It is important to discard the soaking liquid, otherwise the sugars dissolved in it can cause flatulence :-S Now you can cook your soaking beans in the traditional clay pot, or in a pressure cooker, with enough salt, until they are tender. Usually they take from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the method you use. When your beans are done, you can mash them and fry the mashed beans in a little oil with onion and chipotle chili, to make "frijoles chinitos" in the mexican style. Good luck! :-)


You wondered if edamame would be good in this salad. Well, I make a very similar salad and using black beans, corn and edamame and it's delicious! I was so pleased to see this recipe on here since you make such lovely dishes and this is just something I made up at home.


i love these reciepies and look forward to them everyday, Thanks. monu

Dr Monu Survashe

I love legumes but sometimes get confused about how to prepare them. How long to soak? Do I dump the liquid that they have been soaking in? What if the legumes start to sprout? Are they edible then? I was reading in a book recently that traditional societies soaked their grains and legumes for 24 hours or more, sometimes as long as a whole week! HS: I link you to Steve's instructions on the Rancho Gordo site up above. But if I don't feel like dong the mirepoix, I'll soak the beans all day or overnight. Then fill a pot with the beans and enough water to cover the beans by a few inches, and then boil uncovered until the beans are allllmost finished cooking, then I add salt and finish up.


dear heidi: where did you get the plate you used in the picture? HS: There is a whole story behind that plate (and some of my other favorite platters), and I'll write about them at some point, but the short answer is - they are vintage Swedish and I have a friend who brings them back when she visits.


Thanks so much for the link to the Rancho Gordo site--wow, i can't wait to try their European heirloom sampler!

Michelle Novak

Since I'm very pregnant right now and interested in freezing meals, is it possible to freeze the beans after they've been cooked (instead of just after soaking)? I'd love to have some of this salad and other bean dishes on hand for once this little one arrives. HS: Hi Laura! I'm not positive about freezing cooked beans. If you give it a go report back!


Well that looks like a great dish. I am trying to eat more veg. and be healthy. Thanks for making it some bit easier.


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