Healthy Greek-Style Summery Bean Salads to Enjoy

Among the several different varieties of beans to try, painted pony beans. Photo by Liveon001 © Travis K. Witt, via Wikimedia Commons

Beans are a healthy addition to any diet and a great source of plant protein. Whether enjoyed as a side dish or a main course, beans are full of fiber which has benefits for cardiovascular health and can help keep you feeling fuller longer for those trying to control their appetite. A nutrient-dense food, beans also contain zinc, iron, magnesium, and are a good source of folate, and dried beans have double the folate of canned beans. They also contain polyphenols, a type of free radical-fighting antioxidant which can help reduce inflammation, the signs of aging, and cancer risk. Always wash beans before cooking them and remove any that are shriveled or discolored. Soaking the beans and then discarding the soaking water before cooking them in fresh water can also help reduce the gassiness often associated with beans.

Mixed Fresh Bean Salad

1 pound mixed fresh beans, such as green beans, wax beans, shelled fava beans
1 small to medium red onion
3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, optional

Trim the ends of the beans. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook each type of bean separately until desired tenderness. Once cooked, drain, and place the beans in a salad bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon, to taste, and mix well. Top with chopped parsley, if preferred.

Revithia (Chickpea) Salad

1 package dried chick peas
1 bay leaf
1 large red onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon, to taste
Greek extra virgin olive oil

Sort, rinse, and then soak the chickpeas overnight in a large, deep pot with enough water to cover them by two inches at least. After 6-8 hours of soaking and when you are ready to cook them, drain the soaking water and refill the pot with fresh, cold water enough to cover the beans by at least two inches. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce to medium and simmer, skimming and discarding the foam that may form on top. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt or to taste and the bay leaf. Simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about an hour. Add a cup or so of boiling water if the water seems to have evaporated but the chickpeas are not yet tender. Once the chickpeas are tender, remove from heat and transfer with a slotted spoon to a salad bowl or platter, add the onion, carrots, celery, freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and a drizzle of olive oil and stir together. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mixed Bean Salad

3 cups cooked beans of your choice, such as chick peas, navy and kidney beans
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 ripe, plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups baby arugula or spinach or mixed greens of your choice
1/2 teaspoon Greek dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon, to taste
Greek extra virgin olive oil

Toss the first eight ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper and add fresh lemon juice to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.