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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What a charming story to go with a tasty, simple recipe! I love pairing new sauces with beans, and sounds so tasty. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

Heather Christo

I love this recipe. I have made it three times since you posted it, and each time taking it to different social gatherings. Needless to say it is a hit and everyone loves it. Not your ordinary bean salad and super fresh!
Thanks for sharing…


It is nice to pass the family history down. Thanks for sharing this great salad.


What a great recipe and beautiful pics too. Never enough bean recipes in the summer- such an easy thing to make and let hang out with itself in the fridge a little while.

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

I made it and we loved it. I added a touch of shallots to the dressing and then threw in some dried cranberries at the end. Delicious!


This is the best thing I have eating in months! The flavors are just so right together. I didn’t have thyme so I did a mix of basil, chives, and parsley and it was delish! I can’t wait to make it again.


I just made this little gem of a salad and it’s just delicious! I love the combination of the honey and balsamic, fantastic…easy….and great for a summer dish 🙂


just stumbled upon your blog and i can’t get enough. this salad sounds so wholesome and healthy. can’t wait to try it

mina @ sending postcards

This is spectacular! Perfect for a hot summer night when I don’t want to turn on the stove/oven and make my kitchen even hotter! I added new rainbow carrots that I picked up fresh from the farmers’ market today – a good addition because they’re still soft and little. Thanks!


I tried this recipe using just chickpeas and it’s really yummy! I also added cherry tomatoes and some shaved parmigiano cheese. Supa good 🙂


I made this salad for dinner tonight! (ours had string beans.) Absolutely delicious, with a cool variety of flavors and textures. Good job. Yes I imagine a number of “honey-balsamic” dishes in our future.


Thanks for the link to the story ‘Unwilling to Cook’ and the update. It’s great to see that you are touching people’s lives (and he was a great writer too)
Keep spreading the love like butta!


This recipe was really top-notch.
My boyfriend is a real chickpea hater, so I always have to sneak them in when I’m in the mood. He didn’t even realize he was eating them until the last bite.


This post made me think of the “Letter from an Unwilling Cook” too! It’s crazy how long I’ve been reading your blog – time flies. Thank you for the years of inspiration.


Perfect timing. Made a double batch for a pot-luck last night, and still have a bit of leftovers for today. Thinking I will like the flavors even more today.
Had no lettuce. Subbed back in the green beans (steamed them very lightly prior to mixing them with the other beans). Yum!


I just made this salad tonight but without the almonds and lettuce. It is absolutely delicious! I wish it wasn’t almost 11 pm because I want to keep eating it!


If anyone is interested in the cookie cutters pictured on the cover of the book, they’re from Ikea. I have the set, and they make very cute cookies, though it can be hard to get the moose’s legs out unbroken from the cutter.


“Teaching Dad to Cook Flapjacks” is such an unusual title! Love the bean salad.

Shaheen {The Purple Foodie}

Made this salad last night and even my kids (ages 3 and 7) loved it! Nutritious and kid-approved!


I made this for my vegetarian coop and they loved it. In the future, I would use 1 Tablespoon of honey instead of 1.5 tablespoons. I think less honey would still make a sweet contrast in the dressing.


What an interestic book! And such a sweet concept. This salad sounds really differt – I would not have paired honey and beans. I’ll have to try it!


This looks like a good read with great recipes and family pictures. The bean salad is perfect choice for summer picnics!

Pam @ Cooking world

Hei, hei! In Illinois we are coming into summer and the garden is well on it’s way! Salads like this make me wish I lived in a year-round warmer climate so the vegtables weren’t so long in the making! But we have heirloom string beans (pole) on their way and also wax beans so I think this recipe will be fantastic to try. Thanks Heidi for the delicious tasting and looking recipes!


Thanks for sharing a great recipe. I’ve just finished my 2nd lunch (same salad twice a day!) and loved it!!! When I tasted the dressing last night it tasted quite acidic, so I put more honey, yet it still was somewhat more acidic than I’d had hoped. Then again, the acidic flavor got all mellowed out when I tasted again this morning before I toss the salad (for lunch). By the time I had my 1st lunch (at the normal lunch time), the lettuce was slightly wilted, but the dressing was so good I sopped up all of it with a piece of bread I had with the salad. I’ll be making this again soon! Thanks!


I will definitely be on the look-out for this cookbook! Thanks for sharing!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

Yummy coz I love deferent kinds of veg. Salad thank so much I love it!


what a wonderful cookbook! i will be on the lookout for that little jem! i loved the letters from Barry featured on your site, very heartfelt and honest in a way that is rarely found nowadays. i hope to hear an update soon. good luck with your new book!

Danielle L.

beautiful photography of the beach house in finland! simple. clean. like a mellow summer day. thank you for your constant inspiration and concious food recipies. keep up the beautiful work!


I too thought of Barry when I read this. I do indeed hope he’s still cooking and that we hear from him soon. This is a lovely approach to a cookbook, although also makes me a bit sad. My Dad can’t or doesn’t cook at all and I wonder sometimes how that will be if one day my Mom passes before him. But recently I’ve been involving him in pasta making so if nothing else he can say he can fry an egg and roll a mean pasta dough:)


Lovely photos and what a nice review of this food memoir. The contrast texture of almonds and romaine make this salad intriguing–I can’t wait to try it.


Thanks for the cookbook recommendation. I have a million cookbooks, but I think I need that one for my collection..

Rocky Mountain Woman

@ Diane — I think she used “flapjack” because in Britain it refers to a granola bar-type cookie, not pancakes/griddle cakes, which is what we use the word for. My boyfriend’s British parents always refer to it as “flapjack” (as in, “I’m making flapjack tonight”), never with a plural.


I think all of the bean salads I’ve made run on the spicy/savory side, but I like the sound of this sweet rendition.


I do enjoy your stories as much as the recipes, which are of course fabulous. With a bean dish like this, I find it useful to add some brown rice, quinoa or even toasted, popped amarath. All have a nice nutty flavor (to varing degrees) and help to make for complete protein. Texture of the dish changes of course but for me it’s a plus. Given the weeknight rush I’m usually in in the kitchen, it’s best to have the most nutritionally complete single dish I can manage.


Just delish – made it into a main course by adding chopped cauliflower, red bell pepper, peas, corn, mint, parsley and lemon basil… and served it over kale instead of romaine. Huge fan of your site, thanks!


I’d snap this up in a heartbeat, on the cover alone. Terrible habit, that.


Why didn’t she say “flapjacks” …plural? That title is a little too cute for me. I would like the book better with that tiny letter added!


Sounds delicious and healthy. Love beans, they are rich in fiber to make us feel and look fabulous:-) As borlotti beans, I need to learn more about them.
Breathe, smile and be happy

Irina Wardas, CHHC

Thanks so much for this review. My father was from Finland so I liked reading your review and the recipe. I have been following you for a few years now and enjoy your site. My husband was a chef (Middle East and Russian) so, I have used some of your recipes with a twist…

Michele Jawad

What a lovely and inspiring-looking book! I’ll have to check it out.

Georgia Pellegrini

Heidi, thanks for the reminder – I had heard of this book and thought that it sounded interesting!
As for the recipe – well beans are in season here and I love them, so will be trying this one out!


you had me at honey balsamic. but i haven’t had any trouble finding green beans down here at the san mateo farmers market.
i am going to try this with green beans this weekend. thanks for the inspiration!


Thank you! This is the recipe I have been looking for… I’m so tired of my standard bean recipes and wanted something new, quick, easy and delicious. I’ll be making this tonight, for sure.
The book sounds so great, too. Love the concept and everything.


As *soon* as I spied this recipe, I got up off the couch, went to the kitchen and pulled down cans of black, garbanzo, and pinto beans which I always, always have on hand, and steamed up the green beans I bought at the farm market this weekend. Made the salad. Bada bing, bada boom — so easy and the dressing is ridiculously delicious!!! What a fab way to use cupboard staples. Thanks!


This sweet story made me think of my own father’s attempts to prepare meals in the kitchen. He was a single dad who always welcomed help from us kids so we all learned together. At some point a friend gave him a book called, “I’ve Never Cooked Before Cookbook”. I loved that book and for years begged him to give it to me to no avail. When he passed away it finally became mine. By then the cover was torn and pages worn, but I cherish it and every now and then still reference it. I love that Miranda has created her own keepsake.


Thanks for sharing this charming find. I adore this sort of cookbook style.


This books looks beautiful, I want it!!


That’s so funny that you mentioned about Barry, that was the first thing I thought of, although I couldn’t remember his name.
What a great title of that book that woman made for her dad! I love it!
My dad was a professional chef when I was growing up, so he could have written a book for me! Ha!
Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!


What a great and warm idea behind this cookbook! Those are the kind of cookbooks that catch my eye when I get lost in the cookbook sections of the bookstores… Looking forward to trying this recipe!


Oh, the photos in the book brought me back to my chilhood summers!
What a great new summer dish!


I have been a silent visitor to your site for a while now. Love reading your cookbook reviews. Very interesting story of how the cooking manual turned to an awesome cook book. Will definitely get that cookbook.


What a touching story and what a special cookbook that must be. I was wondering though about the original recipe using green beans — what amount would you use?? Thanks.


Yummy. You’ve inspired my lunch for this afternoon!
I love that she made this cookbook for her father. I’ll try and find a copy here in NYC.

Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul

This is not related to this recipe but can anyone tell me if you can freeze Heidi’s July 4th roasted tomato salsa? Have a ton of tomatoes and would like to make for July 4th (coincidentally!) Thanks!


This looks perfect for a 4th of July bbq! I love the combination of honey and balsamic vinegar. Thanks for sharing 🙂


I think I know what I’m doing with my yellow indian woman beans!

Anne Marie

Love love love this recipe, Heidi…I love combining the sweetness of honey or agave with balsamic…I often switch it up between white balsamic and regular balsamic for a unique twist!

The Healthy Apple

Funny how one starts out doing one thing (like the author helping out her dad) and then life just sort of takes over for you … I love it when it ends up like that. All the planning in the world may not have ended up in a printed cookbook, but all the love in the world did.

The Muse of The Day

Oh I just adore, adore this story. There is always more to a recipe than just ingredients the listed. Thank you for sharing this with us!


What a lovely book. Thank you. And I clicked here to find inspiration for something bean-y, and here it is! Again, thank you!


The Book and Recipe are both very inspiring, beans, balsamic and honey, what could be bad? Looking forward to playing with this recipe, thanx for sharing!

Culinary Artist

I was just looking for a recipe for a potluck we’re attending this weekend – looks like I found it!
@Thomas – I’d suggest sunflower seeds.


I’ve just discovered your blog and yet loving it!
I’ll try this gorgeous salad soon, thanks for the inspiration.


Very touching that she was able to switch the roles, acting as a teacher/mentor to her father during this time of need. Inspiring story…

Torrie @ a place to share...

I just made a moro bean and steamed kale salad with honey balsamic dressing, which I heated up with some sauteed shallot and garlic and poured hot over the kale and beans. This cold dressing and salad sound much better for the temps in the 80’s we’re having here. I’ll try it this weekend for our company picnic with leftover beans from the week.


Looks great! I can’t wait to try it.
Also, if you’re looking for green beans, the Alemany farmers’ market has had really good ones for a couple weeks now.


thanks for this recipe. it looks perfect for a fourth of july picnic!


Honey and beans together?!?!? Something new to try!
Have to say, your Japanese Pizza is fantastic, I make it often… so simple and oh so good!


I would love to get my hands on that book!
The salad sounds delicious…perhaps a good camping salad:)

the French

This looks beautiful, and will kick me back into cooking some beans!
I love balsamic vinegar with buckwheat honey (don’t know if that qualifies as “runny”). We make a honey-mustard-balsamic dressing with it regularly, and even my bottled-dressing-loving hubby likes it.


I love the sentiment of that cookbook, it looks like one of those I could settle down with and read like a novel. I look forward to trying this salad – it looks wonderful!

Nancy (guinnah)

Do you think cashews or peanuts would substitute better for the almonds? We can’t do almonds around here 🙁


What a wonderful, wonderful idea for a book. When my mom was in the hospital for 3 weeks a few years ago, I had to teach my dad how to work the washer and dryer. Fortunately, he cooks well, but I remember how weird it was to have one parent missing and have to guide the other through domestic tasks you wouldn’t give a second thought too. I’m so glad this beautiful book turned into something even more than just a binder of recipes. I’ll keep an eye out for it. I’m also looking forward to trying this recipe. As one commenter said above, I’ll try anything with balsamic and honey =)


Thanks for sharing the book and the mention of the polenta cake. I’ve been on a polenta kick lately, so I’ll try to check it out.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

I am new to your site and must say very excited about it. I have been dragging my feet on getting more ‘good for us’ food into our lives thinking that it may be boring, but you have most certainly changed my mind. I have a kitchen blog (pretty new) and today have featured your site. Thank you for sharing your food journey with all of us.

Sherri B.

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.


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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