Tuscan Bean Salad

Tuscan Bean Salad, another healthy salad ♥ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 My recipe makeover for a simple bean salad, just beans and a few vegetables in a red wine vinaigrette. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

Without my recipe makeover, Tuscan Bean Salad would be a complete disaster nutrition-wise. A special problem is that at a quick glance, the inspiring recipe doesn't look "that bad". Just look at the primary ingredients, all healthy!

graphic button small size size 10 Beans – beans are good!
graphic button small size size 10 Tomato & spinach – vegetables are good!
graphic button small size size 10 The oh-so-chic Mediterranean diet ingredients – olive oil & olives are good!

But oh man, before I gave the recipe a makeover, a HALF CUP added up to an unbelievable 350 calories! A full cup of the pre-makeover Tuscan Bean Salad, as seemed right for a vegetarian main dish salad atop other greens (until I did the math), would gobble up 95% of a whole day's worth of calories for someone in 'lose weight' mode on Weight Watchers.

If a bean salad is your idea of an occasional indulgence? The original recipe is for you!

Me, I'd like to save up for – chocolate?! ice cream?! rhubarb cake?! – so my version modified a half-cup serving down to 140 calories. It is very good! All those calories are so unnecessary!

What was the cookbook author thinking?! My theory is that the real trouble is that in general, cookbook authors DON'T think. And they DON'T do nutrition analysis. And so they just DON'T KNOW. And they do all of us a huge disservice ...

graphic button small size size 10 "... had to tell you how delicious it was! ...You are doing great things for my veggie consumption!." ~ Megan


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 3-1/2 cups

1/2 cup (105g) red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

2 15-ounce can beans (usually small white beans such as navy), rinsed and drained
1/2 red bell pepper (50g), chopped
2 tablespoons onion, very finely minced or shaved
1/2 cup (40g) oil-free sun-dried tomatoes, diced small
1/2 cup (75g) Kalamata olives, pitted & halved

A big handful (about 1oz/28g) arugula, roughly chopped

VINAIGRETTE In a large bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.

BEAN SALAD Stir in the beans, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. (If you like, stop here and refrigerate until ready to serve, from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Just before serving, stir in the arugula.

MORE IDEAS Tuscan Bean Salad is easily adaptable. Use green onion instead of onion. Stir in some chopped artichoke hearts or Tuscan kale. Cut in tiny bits of parmesan. Substitute something crunchy, cucumber say, for one can of beans. Adapt away!

BEANS White beans, especially cannellini, seem "just right" for an Italian bean salad. That said, if you find yourself without any, as I did the last time I made Tuscan Bean Salad, other beans will work just fine. For the photo, I used pretty pink pinto beans!
ONION In salads, onions need to be diced really, really fine. For this salad, I tried something new, shaving the onion. I used a vegetable peeler to slice of super-thin slices of onion. This was perfect, it's a technique I'll use again and again, way easier, I think, than cutting an onion super-fine.
TOMATOES The sun-dried tomatoes really concentrate flavor. But during prime tomato season, I'd definitely use fresh tomatoes.
FRESH MOZZARELLA The inspiring recipe called for fresh mozzarella but to my taste, this is the wrong salad for fresh mozzarella since its delicate flavor (and pretty whiteness) is completely overwhelmed by the strong sun-dried tomato, olive and vinaigrette. I'd skip that expense and calories entirely – or substitute an inexpensive soft, mild cheese. That said, if you like the idea of fresh mozzarella, just drape a few strips or rounds across the top when plating.
LEAFY GREENS The inspiring recipe called for fresh spinach. But spinach seemed off to me, too hearty for this salad. Arugula, however, is wonderful here! And you could also substitute fresh herbs, basil or even cilantro. But if you choose spinach, use a small handful and cut it fine.

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beans arugula sun-dried tomatoes olives


~ Summer Black-Eyed Pea Salad ~
~ Chipotle Chickpea Salad ~
~ Black Bean & Corn Salad ~
~ more recipes with Beans, Lentils & Other Legumes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Quinoa & Black Bean Salad ~
~ Lucky Black-Eyed Pea Salad ~
~ Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki) ~
~ more bean recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column


Leeks & Asparagus Poke Sallet Mashed Rutabagas & Apple Summer Vegetable Stew (< Pinterest loves it!) Swedish Beets (< a kitchen staple) Broccoli with Rice Wine & Oyster Sauce Tuscan Bean Salad Beet Carpaccio Golden Beets with Brussels Sprouts Homemade Thousand Island Dressing (< so so good!) Bubble & Squeak Baba Ganoush (Middle Eastern Eggplant Spread) Party Asparagus with Aioli (< this week's favorite!) Asparagus Risotto Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie Miss Jennie's Famous Benedictine Spread Greek Spinach-Asparagus-Potato Gratin (Spinaki me Sparaggia Orgraten) (< so impressive looking) Paleo Carrot Soup Simple Zucchini Ribbon Salad Celery & Chickpea Salad

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006 & 2018

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. AnonymousMay 03, 2006

    Wow ... this sounds filling and nutritious and my favourite part ... it looks gorgeous! I especially love the dressing.

  2. AnonymousMay 03, 2006

    Excellant modification. It's looks wonderful!

  3. Hi Alanna,

    You had me laughing out loud. I really don't think of bean salad as a big indulgence. Thanks so much for the nutritional analysis - that's an important element and the comparison is super helpful!

  4. AnonymousMay 04, 2006

    I totally agree about the oil. There's no way it needed that much. Looks heavenly.

  5. AnonymousMay 05, 2006

    This sounds like a wonderful summer supper salad! I really appreciate your tinkering to lighten it up -- well done, Alanna! I, too, would rather save my calories for something truly indulgent.

  6. I just made this and had to tell you how delicious it was! I love bean salads like this, but I've become bored with my usual white beans, red onion and arugula salad. I used balsamic vinegar since I was out of red wine and I loved it. Also left out the cheese and didn't miss it that much, as you said. Thanks for a delicious recipe! You are doing great things for my veggie consumption!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna