Beautiful Bean Salads

By Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

Summer in St. Louis can get unbearably hot, and the last thing you might want to do is spend a ton of time in a hot kitchen. Fortunately, bean salads are a great way to enjoy fresh, delicious summer produce with a nutritious pantry staple – canned or dried beans. Beans are not only nutritious—packed full of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—they’re tasty and budget-friendly. Additionally, beans are super-easy to prepare and don’t require a lot of work or special equipment. Let’s look at some delicious bean salads you and your family can enjoy at home, at a picnic, a BBQ, or as your go-to lunch staple.

Basic Bean Tips:

  • Drain and rinse canned beans to remove some of the sodium that is used as a preservative. Rinse in a colander until all of the bubbles disappear and you can remove about 40% of the sodium.
  • If a recipe calls for a certain type of bean, don’t be afraid to substitute in another type of bean you have on hand, or use a combination of several types of beans for a variety of tantalizing tastes, textures and colors.
  • Use any combination of beans and colorful chopped veggies, tossed in a simple vinegar and oil dressing. Season with your favorite spices and a little salt. Add some freshly-chopped cilantro, parsley, basil, or dill, and serve chilled.
  • When making tuna or chicken salad, use half of the amount of tuna or chicken the recipe calls for, and substitute in some white beans—cannellini beans work well. Be sure to include colorful, chopped veggies and fruits. Toss in some diced celery, red onion, bell peppers, scallions, red grapes or dried cranberries or raisins.

Southwestern Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Salad
(Serves 10, 3/4 Cup serving size)

  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans black-eyed peas
  • 1 (15 1/4 ounce) can corn kernels, no salt added
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Rinse and dice bell pepper, removing core and seeds. Peel, rinse, and dice onion.
  2. If using, rinse and chop cilantro leaves.
  3. In a colander, drain and rinse black-eyed peas and corn.
  4. In a large bowl, add pepper, onion, peas, corn, cilantro if using, and remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Join us for HOT July happenings at OPERATION FOOD SEARCH! – Over 140 St. Louis region restaurants are participating in the 5th Annual TOMATO EXPLOSION! – a restaurant festival where special tomato dishes are designated to help OFS connect kids in need to nutritious meals this summer. Each time diners order the featured dishes this month, OFS will benefit from the proceeds! New this year – diners will have the opportunity to feed the need and add to the tab to further impact our hunger relief efforts. And don’t forget to take and post a “selfie” of you and your OFS dish to be entered in a raffle for a $100 gift card to your favorite TOMATO EXPLOSION restaurant! – Another way to help this month is by shopping at select Schnucks Markets, Dierbergs Markets and Walmart stores from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on July 25th. That is when Operation Food Search is hosting SATURDAY JUBILEE, a one day, community-wide food drive to restock our distribution center this summer. On this day, volunteers will be out front to greet you and collect non-perishable food items.

For a complete listing of participating TOMATO EXPLOSION restaurants and dishes, and more about SATURDAY JUBILEE, please visit online at www.OperationFoodSearch.org.