Yellow Bean Salad Recipe

A summer yellow bean salad with a green chile-spiked, cilantro-flecked, and coconut milk dressing, toasted pepitas, and (if you want to make a meal of it) pan-fried tofu.

Yellow Bean Salad

I'm going to argue that this is a summer salad better overdressed than under. And, it's all about getting your hands on the best beans you can find. No joke, if all you can find are crap beans, make it with something better - great broccoli or even cauliflower. I go the extra mile here and slice yellow beans into bite-sized segments, but you can certainly stop at topping and tailing. The dressing is green chile-spiked, cilantro-flecked, and coconut milk-based. It's creamy yet vibrant, and the sort of dressing that works with the recipe at hand, as well as just about anything else you have coming out of the garden or off the grill (the recipe will leave you with a good amount of extra). When you're tired of simple summer vinaigrettes, give this dressing a go instead.

Yellow Bean Salad RecipeYellow Bean Salad RecipeYellow Bean Salad RecipeYellow Bean Salad Recipe

It's a personal preference, but I think this sort of creamy dressing goes best with ingredients that have a lot of structure and crunch - part of the reason I paired it with green beans here. Crunchy romaine or little gem lettuce might be another option. Celery would be tasty, or like I mention up above, broccoli or cauliflower. I'm sure you all could come up with other ideas I'd never think of. Anyway, its a favorite dressing. I even thin it out on occasion with a couple cups of simple broth, seasoning it to the point that it tastes good on its own. I bring it to a simmer, then make a quick one-pot soup with egg noodles and crunchy vegetables or tiny tofu cubes and crunchy vegetable. Easy for weeknights or those nights when I want something easy and good in no time at all.

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Yellow Bean Salad

I make this salad with yellow runner beans, but you can certainly make it with green beans! Also, if you tend to like a bit more heat, leave (all or some of) the veins and seeds in the chile pepper.

1 pound / 16 oz yellow runner beans

1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded
5 green onions, green parts trimmed & reserved
a big handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 cup coconut milk, well mixed

1- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

2 big handfuls / 1/2 cup toasted pepitas
1 1/2 cups tiny pan-fried tofu cubes, optional
basil flower garnish, optional

Cut the beans into 1-inch segments on a deep bias. Cook in a pot of well-salted water for just 30 seconds, drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Drain, and aggressively shake off as much water as possible. Set aside.

To make the dressing, pulse the chile, onions, cilantro, garlic, salt, and sunflower oil into a paste with a food processor. Pulse in the coconut milk in two additions, before adding the lemon juice to taste, a half tablespoon at a time.

Place the beans in a large bowl with most of the pepitas and tofu cubes (if you're using them). Toss well with a generous amount of the dressing (you'll have plenty of leftover), even so, as I mention up above, this is one of those salads that benefits from over-dressing versus under. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with the remaining pepitas and tofu, and basil flowers if you happen to have them.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

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Coconut milk in salad dressing–what a great idea! I used a mix of green and yellow beans, and reduced-fat coconut milk. I also marinated some tofu in a little lime and soy, sauteed it and added it in. It was a lovely dinner and pretty to boot.


Yum! This salad looks absolutely incredible! I would love to make something like this myself. The serrano chile is the perfect addition to it as well. I’m sure that it adds such good flavor and spice. This is a recipe I will be keeping with me! Thanks for sharing it with us!

Daniel Meloy

I made this tonight and it was seriously delicious!! I loved the spice from the serrano chile.


Just made this and it was delish. I used three cloves of garlic and added a dash of soy sauce, plus steamed cauliflower. Thanks for another hit, I so appreciate having your veg-full recipes!


Hey Heidi!
This looks delicious and I’d love to try but do you have any tips or a good technique for frying tofu cubes? I’ve tried it a million times and nearly every time, even after flouring, the tofu comes out stuck to the pan and without a nice crisp crust. I’d love to master the tofu part to complete this gorgeous salad!


Made this for the 2nd time last night, and use the leftover dressing on a seitan and corn this morning. I’m tempted to make that dressing by the gallon so I always have some on hand. Thanks for another winner, Heidi!


Lovely, and I suspect delicious too. I’ve added it to the list of things to make this weekend as I’ve got a bunch of yellow beans in my fridge from my CSA box.

Alison | a girl defloured

I made it and took it to a potluck. Got approached by 6 or 7 people for the recipe. I am generally not a cilantro fan, but LOVE this dressing — definitely making it again. Thank you, this is a treat!


HI there! I’m dying to try this but my husband really dislikes coconut milk. Any chance of substituting it for something else? Would soy milk or regular milk work?


I made the recipe tonight with a mix of yellow and green beans–wonderful!


Super yummy sauce – but mine too did not have the consistency spoken of. I’m thinking I didn’t add sufficient qty of ‘white’ green onion… But am open to advice! Little on the liquidy side…


Liz – Mine was watery too, not as ‘dressing’-y as I’d expected. I’m thinking my ‘white’ green onion volume wasn’t up where it should have been… ‘Cause the color was too green as well… But still yummy!


I made this tonight! I thought the flavor was amazing, but, my sauce was super watery. Did I do something wrong?


I’m eating my leftovers of this right now with Sriracha. It’s really good spiced up too!


Perfect timing – I’m just now getting tired of the traditional summery vinaigrettes and this looks amazing and refreshing! Also, did a double take when I saw that oval platter with the yellow flowers – I inherited one just like it from my grandmother. Of course, until now it hadn’t crossed my mind that they would have dared to make more than one 😉

Amanda A.

Just took another peek at your photos and noticed the label on your jar of dressing. Can I ask what you used? I’ve got too many unlabeled jars in the fridge to count and my memory is no help when I need to identify them. I’d love to have something easy to use that comes off the jar when it’s empty!

HS: Hi Kristine – it’s actually a jar I keep reusing, I think it was a peanut brittle label 🙂


I used the leftover dressing on cabbage for spicy slaw….absolutely fabulous! Oh, and I didn’t chop anything, just stuffed it in the blender and whirled away….

Diane Lindsay

LOVE. This dressing is going on every single thing I eat until it’s gone. I imagine it’d also be great tossed with some quinoa, black beans, and some misc. vegetables. Perhaps peppers, red onion, roasted corn..


LOVE. This dressing is going on every single thing I eat until it’s gone. I imagine it’d also be great tossed with some quinoa, black beans, and some misc. vegetables. Perhaps peppers, red onion, roasted corn..


So delicious! Love the dressing. But, I have to ask: 10 minute prep time??! Seriously??? If this took everyone else 10 minutes there is something very wrong with my chopping skills! 😉 Thanks for another awesome creation, Heidi!


Thanks for another homerun recipe. I made the salad with green beans from our CSA while my husband threw together the tasty dressing. We can always count on you for a delicious dinner.


Heidi – how long will the dressing last? It does make quite a bit. It’s awesome, by the way. Just wondering if I can use the last of it tonight or if I’m pushing it (made it the day you published it).

HS – Hi Gretchen, I hate to say it, but you might be pushing it.


Made this this morning, and had never used a serrano chile before (believe it or not), I was pretty unprepared for how zippy it makes it, and I have been dealing with the stinging after effects on my hands (and face) all day. Eek eek. Well, now I know.


Oh Heidi, this dressing is so good! I liked it on the blanched beans, but LOVED it on cabbage as a slaw dressing.
Also, made the Sweet Panzanella from Super Natural Every Day with great success. One of those ‘more-ish’ things it’s hard to stop eating. I didn’t find a whole wheat loaf with nuts, but used a whole grain bread with millet and poppy seeds that had a lot of good texture. What a terrific cookbook!


Really yummy dressing!


So much light and happiness in these pictures.

Kristen @ RMK life

I love all of your recipes but had to write in about this one. Outrageously delicious! So many flavors and wonderful contrasts in each bite. Thanks, Heidi!

Jen Jones

Fresh and delicious. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Jesse DeLuca

Wow! This looks amazing! I especially love the coconut milk based dressing, and love that you also added tofu. Look forward to trying this one out! Thanks 🙂

Rachel Rose

I’m not sure what I did exactly but my dressing came out terrible. It is really bitter before adding the lemon juice and the lemon juice didn’t really help. What could it be???

HS: Really sorry to hear that Monica! As I’m looking at the ingredient list for the dressing, I’m thinking that maybe your cilantro could have been bitter? Not sure if it would have been salvageable with a drizzle of honey, but that’s like how I might have tried to counter balance. Also, I can imagine if you reached for parsley instead of cilantro (which I know is a longshot) that could’ve certainly changed things. The coconut milk tends to take things to the sweet side – definitely stumped by the bitter.


Hey Heidi, wonderful recipe as always and your photography stunning and vibrant. I’f you don’t mind me asking, are you using any new camera’s or lenses as of late?

HS: Hi George! I’m definitely overdue for a post related to cameras/photography. For the past couple of years I’ve found myself ditching the big dSLR in favor of a tiny Sony Nex point and shoot. I borrowed it from Wayne around the house one day, and sort of never put it down. I still shoot a good amount of film – but for the site it’s coming off the little Sony lately.


seriously. yum! i admittedly just progressed from tasting the dressing to desperately grabbing lettuce to transport the dressing into my mouth. i’ve been in need of a dressing to lively up my market salads, and this might just be it! thanks!


Made this yesterday with a combination of green beans, corn, and red pepper (what I had on hand). I loved the creamy dressing with the crunchy vegetables, but I think my choice of corn and red pepper ended up a little too sweet with the coconut milk based dressing. It needed a little more pop somehow. Next time, if I use sweet vegetables, I think I might try lime juice instead of lemon to give it a little more punch.


I am running out of ideas for the beans in my CSA box (have had them non-stop for 6 weeks now). So glad to find this recipe.
Will have to try it today! 🙂

Puja @

Last week before school started, I kept missing the farmer’s market where I planned on picking up the beans. Then, I thought I’d find yellow beans in my neighborhood greengrocer–but no. So I had to settle for the bags of green and yellow mixed beans from TJoes, and not happily. The results were still delicious. What an amazing dressing. A guest who does not like spicy foods said that he thought it was great. I also cooked my beans till they were not so crunchy–maybe 2-3 minutes (I kept tasting them till I got them the way I like). I’d love to read your comments on even more ways to use this dressing.


I made this last night – I thought it would be special, but didn’t know quite how special. And – shock horror – I made it with supermarket green beans (I couldn’t wait until the weekend to get to a market)! This dressing will be used time and time again, thanks Heidi!


Looks really good. Never really know what to do with yellow beans when I get them in my CSA box.

Fork and Whisk

The dressing is so amazing… I kept sneaking little sips of it during the salad prep. I made this with green beans and there is no way that 30 seconds was going to be enough so I left them in for about 90 seconds. Got everything all together including the tofu and the too firm beans ruined it! So disappointed that it was sitting in my fridge for the past two days. Came home ravenous from a run today and dug this out in desperation. The beans have softened up nicely and the flavors really melded. Added some fresh sea salt and it is dee-lish!


This looks delicious, and so unique. I never know what to do with yellow beans. Now I do!


My boyfriend hates coriander (Australian for cilantro!) so this was a lovely home alone dinner for me! Not to mention a great way to use up the last of the broccoli & cauliflower in my fridge! Thanks!


That’s an interesting dressing using coconut milk. I’d also add a pinch of roasted cumin powder, fennel seeds powder and a dash of cinnamon powder for a desi/Indian twist.

Sailaja @ Indian Food

Just made this and and am dying how good it is. I added a bit too much chili but could see if I added another veggie you suggested, it would calm it down a bit. This is definitely my “go to” salad from here on out. Thanks Heidi.


Total yum. Between this recipe and your parmesan celery salad…I had to buy the celery and the beans….otherwise had the makings for these two wonderful recipes. HOMERUN awesome. Thank you!
“Celery City USA!”
P.S. You have also inspired me to switch to glass storage instead of plastic.


I always adore your salad recipes….they seem so fresh, real and raw. I’ve made it a point to try all of them and need to find more time to experiment! Thanks for another great recipe!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

“It’s a personal preference, but I think this sort of creamy dressing goes best with ingredients that have a lot of structure and crunch – part of the reason I paired it with green beans here.” Crunch is the best! “Easy for weeknights or those nights when I want something easy and good in no time at all.” I definitely try this one, as soon as I have the chance :).

David Polanski

what a wonderful salad…healthy but delicious…and the broccoli is a great idea… xv

vicki archer

This is such a pretty salad and I absolutely love the idea of adding coconut milk to it!


This looks very similar to a coconut sauce recipe you posted this spring (which I made and loved). I still have some in my freezer that I have been waiting to use for a too-busy-to-cook day. I hadn’t thought about using it as a base for salad dressing! I’m guessing it would be pretty similar, and I think it would be great!


We are out of town, so the idea of trying this salad makes me look forward to going home. I know we have “light” coconut milk at home. Will it work in this recipe or is it lacking the full flavor/richness that prompts “overdressing” this salad?


Your recipes look great, I’ve never thought of using yellow beans for a salad but will definitely try it !

Tate it if you can

I’m going through a freakishly obsessive coconut milk phase, but I’ve never used it as the base for a dressing… Fabulous idea! Added the the list of “to dos” for the weekend…

the petite aesthete

How convenient – I had a bag of beans from the CSA and needed a new recipe. I added ground chicken thighs like larb and it was awesome. Now I need to make plans for the remaining dressing, and I’m pretty sure the purslane is going to love it.


I tossed in a handful of fresh parmesan cheese. The dressing is delightful! Thank you!


Sounds really delicious. And it seems like a great way to use the second half of a bunch of cilantro and a can of coconut milk–seems like I always end up with leftovers of both languishing in the fridge.

The Rowdy Chowgirl

what a delicious looking salad! i love this recipe! 🙂


Wow! What a fresh and beautiful salad…if only my husband didn’t hate beans…sigh. 😉


Made this tonight with our dinner, so good! I used toasted sunflower seeds in place of the pepitas and pumped up the amount of garlic. The dressing is so delicious! Couldn’t get enough of it, thanks!


Is there basil in the salad? I am confused about the basil garnish.

HS: Hi Maria – didn’t mean to confuse, I just tossed some basil flowers on top because they look pretty and smell great – and there is a plant just outside my kitchen window. Feel free to skip them, or add some torn basil to the salad – either way, really.


This certainly sounds yummy! One of my great frustrations about summer gardening is that all the ingredients you might want for a recipe each are ready in their own time: I just composted the last of the dead cilantro stems this weekend while the beans are going full blast here in Minnesota!


ugh. yum. so. hungry.


Inspired by Tamar Adler’s book, I’ve been cooking my vegetables – even for salads – a bit longer than usual and not bothering to shock them in cold water.
Just as with over-dressing, perhaps a bit out of fashion, but infinitely more delicious!


My parents used to grow mountains of wax beans like these in our garden when I was little. I clearly would’ve liked them a lot better if they’d been drenched in this delicious-sounding dressing! 🙂


Heidi- I love so many of your recipes and prefer printing them with the photo for visual reference. My question is technical – might it be possible to have the photos re-sized so those of us that “print w photo” can have the recipe fit on one page? Your recipes often just slide onto the second page and, if the photos were just a tiny bit smaller, it would all fit on one gorgeous page. My 2 cents to add to your amazing recipes.


Oh my gosh this sounds so good right about. You are right about the summer salads, I need a bit of a pick me up. This is the one. I love Serrano chiles, they are a favorite of mine.


I love the use of coconut milk in this recipe – unexpected and delicious.

Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

I love this salad idea. I am always looking for more flavors and textures to combine with tofu. I follow a vegetarian diet and Tofu is one of my preferred proteins. I have combined it with beans before, but always with an Asian flavour profile. This sounds so flavorful and will mix things up with these two prominent ingredients. I’m so excited to try it, I wish that I was about to eat it for lunch!

& BOOM, you create another perfect recipe to help out with the garden bounty & save me from canning in the hot weather! i’m going to sub in purple runner beans for yellow & raise a delicious bean to you, heidi…thank you!

spoon&sailor letterpress

& BOOM, you create another perfect recipe to help out with the garden bounty & save me from canning in the hot weather! i’m going to sub in purple runner beans for yellow & raise a delicious bean to you, heidi…thank you!

spoon&sailor letterpress

Ooh, I like the idea of using coconut milk in salad dressing. And that serving plate for the salad is so pretty!


This week at the farmer’s market the beens had finally arrived and there were barrels of yellow, green, and purple varieties. I greedily filled my basket and now I’ve got a fun recipe to try, thanks to you!

la domestique

I love the yellow-green color of this salad and how the light is hitting it. Goal this Saturday….find non-crap beans at the market and make this salad!


This salad looks so good! I love salads like this, they’re a change from lettuce based salads.


Coconut milk makes everything good! Some day if I win the lottery I think I will fill the bath tub with coconut milk- it seems like it would be great for the skin. Oh- is that weird? Anyways, your salad sounds delightful. Thanks!

Dawn @cuter than gluten

What a positively lovely recipe. The lightness – visual as well as the texture – is simply perfect. Can’t wait to try it.


How wonderful! I’ve never considered using coconut milk as a dressing, but I love the idea. Thanks for sharing.


This salad is so unique and pretty! Love this idea!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

You had me at coconut milk.
and then basil flowers?

Marie Panesko

Love how simple and lovely this looks!

Belinda @zomppa

Yum! This salad looks so incredibly refreshing. I would love to add a dash of curry to this as well.

Christina @ The Beautiful Balance

I really like idea of making the dress with coconut milk, the texture of it mixes really well with the structure of ingredients such as beans and tofu!
Can’t wait to give this a try.

Mike @TheIronYou

I plan to have a glut of beans on my hands soon (yes, my Seattle garden’s always a bit behind schedule). Thanks for this delicious idea for eating them up!


This salad looks soo good, I cant wait to try it.
Would the dressing work with another herb like basil or parsley? :)thanks

HS: Absolutely – you can totally experiment with different herbs….basil, chives…

Natasha @ s'morish

Mmmm, coconut milk based dressing sounds absolutely fab, and I just so happen to have half a can of organic coconut milk left over from last night’s dinner. I saw some pretty amazing looking beans at the farmer’s market this weekend as well. Thanks for yet another amazing recipe!


I love the ingredients of this salad, but I love the dressing idea even more! Never thought to use coconut milk as the base of a dressing – sounds amazing!

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

Another beautiful salad and the light in your kitchen is amazing. I like the idea of coconut milk for the base of a dressing. I need to learn to be more adventurous with my salad dressings. 🙂


coconut milk in a dressing is interesting. You’re totally right with finding good produce. You’ve just got to get the best produce for a salad as that’s what it’s all about. Good salads should hardly need anything really apart from the veg, brought out by a light dressing.

adam and Theresa

I agree that all salads, not just summer, are better over rather than under-dressed! This looks great.
And a coconut milk-based dressing. Delish!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

This salad looks fabulous! I’ve made your spicy lemon coconut sauce before (which this looks very similar to) and absolutely LOVED it. Seriously I had to stop myself from eating the whole batch with a spoon. I never would have thought to use it on fresh beans though!


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