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

101 Cookbooks Membership

Premium Ad-Free membership includes:
-Ad-free content
-Print-friendly recipes
-Weeknight Express PDF
-Surprise bonuses throughout the year

weeknight express

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!

Apologies, comments are closed.


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!

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.

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!

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...

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:)

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!

Do you think cashews or peanuts would substitute better for the almonds? We can't do almonds around here :( Thanks!


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.

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.

Comments are closed.

Apologies, comments are closed.

More Recipes

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Any clickable link to amazon.com on the site is an affiliate link.