This simple mediterranean white bean salad is a combination of cannellini beans, feta cheese, bell peppers and fresh parsley in a simple lemony vinaigrette. This hearty bean salad recipe makes for an easy side dish that is simple to make! Gluten free, and skip the feta for a vegan bean salad.
Since I travelled to Greece this summer, I have been OBSESSED with white beans. Giant lima beans, great Northern beans, cannellini beans and regular white navy beans, they are all equally good in my book when served with a generous amount of high quality Greek olive oil.
It is this love of Greek white beans that inspired this white bean salad recipe. For this Greek bean salad recipe, we take regular cannellini beans, combine them with diced red bell pepper, marinate them in a tangy lemon vinaigrette, and top with a generous helping of crumbled feta and chopped fresh parsley. This salad keeps well, and it's great for meal prep!
Whether you use canned or home-cooked white beans, what's important is that you douse them with high quality oil. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, this quick-marinated white bean salad will become your new favorite summer salad.
What are white beans?
White beans are a type of bean with a white or off-white color. They come in many varieties, including butter beans, cannellini, lima beans, navy beans, and great northern beans. Depending on the variety, white beans can range in size from small to large.
White beans are typically milder in flavor than other types of beans and have a smooth texture when cooked. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals including iron and zinc.
Health benefits of white beans
White beans are an excellent source of nutrition and provide many health benefits. They are a good source of:
- plant-based protein
- dietary fiber
- complex carbohydrates
- essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins
- antioxidants which can help to reduce inflammation in the body and may protect against certain types of cancers.
They are also low in calories, fat and cholesterol.
White beans may also be beneficial for those with diabetes as they have a low glycemic index which helps to maintain blood sugar levels. Moreover, white beans can help to improve digestion due to their high fiber content which can make you feel fuller for longer periods of time.
All in all, white beans are an incredibly nutritious food that boosts up the nutritional value of this amazing side dish.
What Kind of Beans Can I Use?
For this white bean salad recipe, I recommend using cannellini beans. Cannellini beans are particularly popular because of their creamy texture and nutty flavor when cooked.
Other bean options you can use include Great Northern Beans, borlotti beans, and navy beans.
Navy beans are widely used as they have a slightly sweet taste that pairs well with the salad's other salty ingredients, like feta.
Great Northern Beans may be used as an alternative due to their similar flavor profile. All types of white beans are versatile ingredients that add nutrition and flavor to any Greek-style dish!
Overview of Mediterranean diet
This cannellini bean salad recipe draws inspiration from Greek cuisine, and particularly the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional foods and cooking styles of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This diet typically includes an abundance of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and healthy fats from olive oil. It also includes some dairy products, fish and poultry, with limited amounts of red meat.
The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world due to its emphasis on fresh ingredients with antioxidant properties that protect against diseases like cancer and heart disease. Eating this way has also been associated with improved mental health and longevity. The Mediterranean diet can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle by focusing on fresh ingredients that are available in most grocery stores or farmers markets.
So does this mean this Greek bean salad with feta is healthy? You betcha!
Why You'll Love This Mediterranean White Bean Salad
This white bean salad is a perennial favorite in my house, a family-friendly side dish that is popular with kids and grown ups. You're going to love it because this salad is:
- Easy to make ahead
- A great portable lunch
- A great healthy summer salad
- Makes a great side dish that is packed with veggies
- Family friendly
Ingredients for this hearty cannellini bean salad
- White beans - my favorite beans to use here are cannellini beans and chickpeas (for a different take). This salad is great also with white navy beans or great Northern beans.
- Red pepper- this adds sweetness and brightness to this salad.
- Red onion - red onions have a sweeter, milder flavor that goes well with salad. You can also sub in white onions or yellow onions if that's what you have.
- Feta cheese
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Fresh parsley
- Salt & pepper
Directions for making Greek bean salad
Prep the beans and veggies
Soak the white beans overnight or use canned beans (if using canned, rinse and drain). Cook beans if needed: you can cook your white beans on the stovetop, or cook white beans in the Instant Pot.
Dice all the vegetables finely.
Make lemon vinaigrette
Start by squeezing the juice from 1 lemon into a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. If you'd like, you can also add 1 teaspoon of honey. Whisk all ingredients together until fully combined. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if desired.
Combine salad ingredients
In a large salad bowl, combine all ingredients except feta cheese and stir. Add the feta cheese and stir gently to combine everything together.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving for all the flavors to marinade.
Serve white bean salad with crusty bread and more olive oil
Serve this salad with crusty bread and additional olive oil to give it an added punch.
The clear, bright flavors of this salad make it perfect for picnics, lunch boxes, dinner parties, or just a quick weeknight meal. Plus, its lightness makes it a great healthy summer accompaniment to salads as well as roasted meats or fish. But you should go ahead and enjoy this nutritious dish any time of the year!
How do I keep leftovers for this salad?
This salad is amazing for leftovers! I love to make a big batch of this salad in a large mixing bowl, and then separate it into small airtight containers and set aside for lunches for the week. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days.
There are many ways to customize this salad! Keeping with the Greek style, I like to add:
- sun-dried tomatoes
- artichoke hearts
- tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- cucumbers (or other fresh veggies)
- dried oregano
Invest in a good olive oil - there is so much variety amongst olive oils, and they really make this salad shine! Choose a fruity extra virgin olive oil for best results, though a peppery one could also work. I tested the recipe with high-quality, small batch Greek olive oil, which is more on the peppery side.
Choose a good feta cheese - my favorite feta is Macedonian feta, which is soft and creamy. But to keep in mind with the Greek theme of this recipe, I recommend choosing a good Greek feta that combines goat or sheep's milk with cow's milk.
Don't skip the vinaigrette - making lemon vinaigrette is a simple and delicious way to dress up your salads. All you need is fresh lemons, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of honey for added sweetness.
What to serve with this Mediterranean white bean salad
This salad makes for a great side to have with:
You can also serve it alongside some grilled meat and veggies for a quick, great healthy summer bbq side dish!
Tried and loved this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below! Your reviews mean a lot to me, so if you've got any questions, please let me know in a comment.
Yes! This salad works well with any type of white bean.
This salad can be made in advance very easily to save time, so go right ahead and marinate the white beans for this recipe a day or two early! It will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days while it has time to absorb the bright flavor of the vinaigrette. I suggest you only add the tomatoes, feta and herbs when serving.
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Mediterranean white bean salad with feta
- If using canned beans, rinse and drain the beans. If making the beans from scratch, soak the white beans overnight and cook beans as needed: you can cook your white beans on the stovetop, or cook white beans in the Instant Pot.
- Dice vegetables finely.
- To make the dressing, squeeze the juice from 1 lemon into a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. If you'd like, you can also add 1 teaspoon of honey. Whisk all ingredients together until fully combined. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if desired.
- In a large salad bowl, add the beans, bell pepper, onions and parsley, and stir. Add the feta cheese and stir gently and toss to combine.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving for all the flavors to marinade.
- Serve this salad with crusty bread and additional olive oil to give it an added punch.
- The clear, bright flavors of this salad make it perfect for picnics, lunch boxes, dinner parties, or just a quick weeknight meal. Plus, its lightness makes it a great healthy summer accompaniment to salads as well as roasted meats or fish. But you should go ahead and enjoy this nutritious dish any time of the year!