White Bean Salad Recipe

A tasty white bean salad topped with toasted walnuts, crumbled cheese, and a hint of citrus. Makes a good side dish, a satisfying lunch, or light dinner.

White Bean Salad

I have a little notebook that I contribute to regularly. It's the place where many of my favorite recipes (or recipes ideas) go until I am ready to share them. I suspect that if I ever chose to do another book (years from now!), much of the inspiration would come from the pages of this 5-by-8-inch booklet. It still has many, many blank pages waiting to be filled and I look forward to the meals, travels, and conversations that will surely spill over from my life to sneak between its front and back covers. One recent entry, White Bean Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Crumbled Manouri Cheese, and Citrus Oil, became an immediate favorite of mine. I wanted to share it with you, for those of you who appreciate recipes that come together in 5 minutes or less, this is a bean salad to try.

Like some of my favorite recipes, this one came together serendipitously. I had some white beans on-hand thinking I'd made some sort of pasta e fagioli - but it was late when I arrived home, and we decided we wanted to eat dinner immediately if not sooner. Not to mention the fact that pasta e fagioli with canned beans is less than ideal.

This is when I start grabbing things. In this case twenty seconds later I had the following on the counter in front of me: a small bag of baby spinach, 2 cans of white beans, a small chunk of manouri cheese, two handfuls toasted walnuts, an amazing ruby grapefruit olive oil, salt, and some champagne vinegar.

The tangy citrus notes in the olive oil played off the creamy beans beautifully. The crunch and toasted heartiness of the walnuts added another layer of flavor and depth. The next time around I'll do the salad justice and use some proper beans, but even using canned it was remarkable. Makes a good side dish, a satisfying lunch, or light dinner.

Other things that might be nice in this salad: shaved Parmesan in place of the crumbled cheese, thinly sliced celery, citrus segments....other ideas? Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

white bean salad recipe

BAY AREA BOOK SIGNING: Before I sign off for the weekend, I want to let Bay Area readers know that I'll be signing books at Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts in Berkeley at 7:30 on June 14th. This is a lovely shop that I suspect might set me back a few dollars before I finish up that night. In addition to the signing in Berkeley, there are a couple other signings coming up - one in the north bay, and one in the south bay - but that might be it for me this summer. I'm think I'm ready to hop some flights and do a bit of globetrotting ;) But before I do so, I would love to meet more of you in person.

Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts
2904 College Ave, Berkeley Ca
June 14, 7:30 pm

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White Bean Salad

A couple purple lettuce leaves snuck into my baby spinach bag at the market, I like the color they add to this salad so I left them in. I call for a citrus olive oil in this recipe (I used the ruby grapefruit olive oil from O Olive Oils. Orange or Lemon would likely be nice as well (and more readily available). In a pinch, an alternative would be to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil along with some citrus zest.

2 big handfuls baby spinach, washed and dried
2 cans white cannellini beans (or freshly cooked equivalent)
2 handfuls walnuts, toasted
a couple glugs of citrus-flavored olive oil
a small splash of champagne vinegar
a few pinches fine-grained sea salt
a bit of crumbled cheese (manouri, goat cheese work nicely)

Rinse and drain the beans. If you like your bean salad on the warm side, my shortcut for heating them up is to run them under hot water (saves having to wash a pot).

In a large bowl combine the spinach, beans and walnuts. Add the olive oil, a splash of champagne vinegar, and salt. Toss gently but make sure you get everything nicely coated. Sprinkle a bit of cheese on top and enjoy.

Serves 4.

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

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does anybody know how to create citrus oil, - it's not available here. and how about champaigne vinigar??


Yummy...my version involves arugula, tangerine oil, canned beans (yay nana from the depression, rinsed) and some Bermuda onion if on hand. I also use spinach leaves as the basis, with orange slices and never tried the nuts. I call this the Madeline Kahn because I invented it the week of her death when I was in college! xoxoSebs


I made this salad for lunch today. I didn't have any citrus olive oil on hand, so I zested a lemon into the oil. Also, I used goat cheese. It was absolutely fantastic in every possible way. Where does one get champagne vinegar, anyway? I substituted lemon juice, which worked nicely.


this sounds absolutely fabulous. I have to say, I just picked up a copy of your book over the weekend, and it is gorgeous. the photography, writing, recipes....everything.


Sounds like a perfect light summer dish. I usually make a similar dish using a smaller amount of Point Reyes blue cheese instead of the Manouri. I'll have to try it your way though. Thanks.


I made this last night with some delicious cabra cheese from Spain crumbled on top. Creamy! The ruby grapefruit olive oil was a tremendous find. So fragrant and perfect.


nature food ~ nature delicious~ so healthful salad~

YOYO's Food

That looks fabulous - I could eat it right now!


That stuff looks really good! I love beans and I should try cooking it sometime!


Oh yum....yum, yum, yum!! I've almost short-circuited the computer drooling on it while looking at this recipe! Can't wait to try it, am off to the grocery store now for ingredients!


Heidi, I am allergic to walnuts but can eat most any other type of nut. What would you suggest as a substitute for this salad? Would the flavor of pecans be too strong?


i just made this salad and it is so good.


Barry! Great to see you back here. You'll have to email me and let me know how things are going on the cooking front. Tina, the beans i used were Eden organic. I don't like it when canned beans are too mushy, and these were better than most. Kate, it's just some red lettuce from a mix that was next to the baby spinach bin. Kelly, I haven't seen it yet! I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. Auntie Shay, I would love to be making this for us to share over lunch! Miss you!


Barry! Great to see you back here. You'll have to email me and let me know how things are going on the cooking front. Tina, the beans i used were Eden organic. I don't like it when canned beans are too mushy, and these were better than most. Kate, it's just some red lettuce from a mix that was next to the baby spinach bin. Kelly, I haven't seen it yet! I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. Auntie Shay, I would love to be making this for us to share over lunch! Miss you!


Love seeing you in the new issue of Glamour Magazine:)


This sallad is the best follower to grilled whitefisch, and I most say that I will try it for many moor times. Thanks for schering it with us. Hope yuor cookbook whil be inspired by many moor peapel in future. DELICIOUS, and thank's again.


That store sounds great - if I were local I would definitely come!

Alice Q. Foodie

Heidi.....what a beautiful salad. Once again I am inspired. I am sharing your new cookbook with friends and I can say "only raves!!! Go "globetrotting" you deserve a break. Plus we will be the recipients.


All the best with the book-signing. Hope lots of people turn out. I just want to pluck those walnuts from the salad and munch on them :)


what is the purple stuff in the photo? opal basil? a little torn radicchio?


This is exactly the kind of thing I'll be eating all summer. The citrus flavored oil sounds great, now I'm going to have to find some of that. I'm glad that you endorse using canned beans, part of the point of "cooking" in the summer is not getting the kitchen hot, right?


Great minds think alike...I came in starving at lunch time yesterday, and did a black bean salad with canned, organic beans. Not as good as those from Rancho Gordo, but for ease and speed, wonderful to have on hand. Keep inspiring us!


It is wonderful, I just added a úinch of fresh or dried tarragon. The flavor improves.

Yarmilla Richter

Bean salads... my favourites. Easy to prepare (a 'must'!), nutritious, tasty, versatile... and this one looks beautiful. Some ingredients may be difficult to replicate here in England, but the inspiration is there for us, Heidi. And your photography just makes it look so yummy!

Barry (The Unwilling Cook!)

I just got my copy of Super Natural Cooking too but I'll never get around to cooking anything from it if I keep coming back here and finding even more recipes! I love a white bean salad and I have everything for this to hand, except I'll have to use feta. Will have to get my hands on Cook 1.0 as well just to round off my mini-collection.


Another beautiful post. Read in the comments you have two books published? I recently acquired "Super Natural Cooking" - not easy to get in the UK but totally worth all the hassle! What's the second book?


I've been looking for some good salads. I picked up a copy of you new cookbook yesterday. I'm can't wait to throw a dinner party and revamp my pantry :)


I love this type of recipe, it is exactly in line with my whole approach to cooking. You provide a framework that you can play with and make a dish that can be different every time! Thanks for this inspiration.

Deborah Dowd

Wow, not only does this look totally yummy but the photo is equally beautiful. :)


Wow Youre, like, the Joan Didion of cooking


I've been a follower of this blog for some time now, and just picked up both of your books from Amazon last week! Amazing. I think in your globetrotting you should swing by the Midwest and do a little book signing in Columbus, Ohio. We've got quite a foodie crowd here - you'd be surprised!


oh great! I have a can of cannellini beans, and I've been wondering what to do with it! thansk for the recipe!

Maninas: Food Matters

This is beautiful, sounds delicious & on my menu for tonite!


I'd love to know what brand of canned (or bottled) cannelini beans people recommend - my favorite brand (whole foods 365 in a glass jar) has been discontinued, to my dismay!


I just did a post on bean salad yesterday. We love them and pasta e fagioli is our favourite!!


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