Honey Balsamic Bean Salad Recipe

Inspired by a recipe in Miranda Gardiner's Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack - a simple bean salad tossed with lots of toasted almonds, fresh thyme, and an assertive honey-balsamic dressing.

Honey Balsamic Bean Salad

I was browsing the shelves at Omnivore Books the other day when Celia, the owner, pointed out a medium-sized hardback with a texty cover and orange spine - Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack. I flipped through the first few pages, bought it, and brought it home with me (thank you Celia!). Written by Miranda Gardiner, the book started as a how-to cooking manual written for her father not long after her mother passed away. He was on his own, in his sixties, and learning to fend for himself in the kitchen for the first time. The first recipe she showed him was a chewy flapjack - hence the title.

Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad Recipe

Miranda lives in a beach house in South Devon with her husband and three children. Her dad lives on the north coast of Cornwall, a two hour drive from Miranda. The book may have started as a binder for her father, but the collection of recipes grew to include a blend of family recipes - (primarily Cornish), recipes related to extended family (Finnish), and those inspired by friends, travels, and restaurant experiences. The recipes are interlaced with stories and snippets of family history. Little vignettes that made me nostalgic for just about everything - picnics, real summers, the smell of salt water...

Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad Recipe

There's a chapter inspired by Miranda's annual pilgrimage to the family summer house in Finland. Daily activities include collecting berries and cooking sweet waffles on a 50-year old lakeside griddle. Her tone is casual and unassuming, and it fits just right with the type of food she includes here. The chapters leak and meld into each other around themes like travel, beach-front living, and in-season cooking resulting in a charming, eclectic mix - equal parts food memoir, travel diary, and how-to manual for dad.

Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad Recipe

Most of the recipes are no-fuss, and few require special equipment. Many feel like off-the-cuff weeknight plates tossed together with whatever is on hand and in season - in a good way. The book has a number of veg-friendly recipes, a number that are easily adaptable, and plenty of baking inspiration. Today's recipe was inspired by Miranda's bean salad made with green beans, chickpeas, borlotti and pintos. As I mention in the head notes, green beans aren't quite in season here, so I chopped up a head of Romaine lettuce instead, and added extra crunch and nuttiness with toasted almonds. The simple-yet-assertive honey-balsamic dressing and fresh thyme bring everything together. An easy summer salad. As far as other recipes go - in one article, Miranda mentions her favorite recipe from the book is the Polenta Cake, so I'd like to try that. I also made a note to try a veg-version of her Rocket & Buttermilk Soup.

Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad Recipe

If you come across Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack, take a few minutes to flip through it, I suspect many of you will like it. Worth noting: this is a U.K. edition, most of the recipes are in weights rather than volume. No big deal if you have a kitchen scale.

I'll include a few related links below, and for those of you who have been longtime readers, I couldn't help but think of this: A Letter from an Unwilling Cook. I haven't heard from Barry in a few years, but my hope is that he is still at it. Barry, if you're still reading, please email and let me know how you're doing.

Related links:

- Website: Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack Website

- Book excerpt and recipes in The Guardian: How I taught my father to cook

- Miranda on Twitter: @mirandagardiner

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Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad

As I mention in the main post, the original recipe called for green beans, which are out of season here in San Francisco as I type this. I chopped up a head of structured, romaine lettuce instead. I also added and tweaked a few things, as I'm prone to do. If you're trying to come up with a substitute for the green beans, imagine ingredients that might go nicely with the honey-balsamic vinegar. And I suspect it goes without saying, but you can certainly play around with the type of beans you use here. I would have used borlotti beans in place of the black beans, but I went with the beans I had on hand, rather than make a trip to the store.

8 oz / 225 g (about 1 1/2 cups) EACH cooked chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans

1 small head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried, shredded

1/3 cup / 1 oz / 30g sliced almonds, toasted

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4+ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

10 sprigs fresh thyme

Combine the beans, lettuce, and most of the almonds in a large salad bowl. Set aside. Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and sea salt in a small container. Taste, and adjust to your tastes.

Run your fingers up each thyme sprig, removing the leaves. Add to the salad bowl along with a good amount of the dressing. Toss well, and add more dressing if you like. Finish by sprinkling with the remaining almonds.

Serves 4- 6.

Inspired by a recipe in Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjack by Miranda Gardiner (Hardie Grant Books, May, 2010).

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

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

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Heidi - as I type this, I'm enjoying your awesome carrot cake! I tried to leave a comment on the actual post, but I think the comments were closed. Also, I wrote about the recipe on my own blog and I wanted to let you know. Thank you so much for the recipe, I love it!

A Teenage Gourmet

wow, looks like an amazing book! thanks for sharing.


I just have to say how much i love your site! Your recipe's, photographs and writings are wonderful! I've been a fan for awhile now but felt inspired this morning to comment as i'm enjoying a bowl of your honey toasted fruit muesli with blueberries and almond milk and planning to make this bean salad asap! Thanks for all the inspiration!


I like the photos of her family visit to their summer home. This book is such a beautiful dedication to family recipes and an honor her dad. I look forward to trying the bean salad, I like the simplicity of the dressing and the assertive flavors.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

I like the photos of her family visit to their summer home. This book is such a beautiful dedication to family recipes and an honor her dad. I look forward to trying the bean salad, I like the simplicity of the dressing and the assertive flavors.

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

Yum, what a delicious salad!

Simply Life

i'm pretty sure i'd eat "honey balsamic" anything ...

12th Man

THANK YOU for the recipe!!!! That looks fantastic! And CUTE BOOK!!!

Annie D. @ Annie's Simple Life

Thanks for introducing another fantastic, inspiring cookbook and recipe. You never disappoint. Just a heads up, I believe your "A Letter from an Unwilling Cook" link appears to be broken, unless something with my temperamental Indonesian internet connection is acting up again. HS: Should be fixed Kat, thanks for the heads up.


I am kinda excited with the taste of the beans with balsamic. Pretty interesting, I bet. Nice book. I totally love your kitchen stuff like the bowl and everything that you use. Rustic but very dramatic and artistic. Kudos again :)

The Artist Chef (Joanie)

With the honey and balsamic dressing, I'm really digging the flavors in this salad. This one is definitely a keeper. Cheers!


those photos! thanks for sharing this, heidi - i need to get my hands on a copy.


Yum! My bean-obsessed 6-yr-old will LOVE this. Thanks. (Also, intrigued, I tried to open the Barry link, got an "not found on this server" error message)


That looks like a beautiful book and I think the title is lovely......the salad doesn't look bad either...yum!


I just came on here to browse your salad recipes, and then saw a new one (this one) right on the homepage! It's like you knew...lol


It must be very tasty, I ate one of your bean salads, also with almonds and it was delicious :)


What a precious-looking cookbook. And that salad sounds great!

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

hello heidi, i, too, enjoy your cookbook reviews - the only problem is you always make me want to go straight to amazon and order the book for myself... i've been trying to hold back from buying more cookbooks for now, as i've one too many that i bought and yet to start cooking from! but oh, this one looks lovely, too... :) thanks!


Love the combination of the honey and balsamic along with the beans. Super satisfying. Looks like a wonderful book to pick up. Thank you for sharing!

Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }

I really enjoy when you do cookbook reviews. I love your cookbook, so I love to see what inspires you! Thanks for sharing! Can I request more zucchini recipes? My garden is over-flowing. If you're not up to it, can I please leave 10 pounds on your doorstep? Only joking...kind of. Coincidentally, I will be in SF this weekend...haha. Also, can you tell us your favorite recipes for days when it's too hot to turn on the oven?


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