This Italian white bean salad is made with simple, whole ingredients and topped with an umami-rich homemade anchovy-mustard vinaigrette. Serve it with crusty bread for a deliciously satisfying meal.
About the dressing
Just the thought that this salad dressing contains anchovies may be off-putting for some of you, BUT I assure you, it’s the simplest way to take a salad dressing from ordinary to extraordinary. If you’re worried the dressing will taste fishy, I can tell you now, it WON’T. These tiny little fish add a briny, savoury flavor. And since they are they are chopped up so small and emulsified with the dressing you likely wouldn’t even know they were in this white bean salad if someone else made it for you. And there is the added bonus — anchovies are chock-full of healthy Omega-3 fats, protein and selenium.
A Mediterranean-inspired Italian White Bean Salad
The influence of flavours for this salad are probably pretty obvious! It’s made with classic Mediterranean flavours. And in this case, I would like to give my recent trip to Sicily credit for the inspiration. Giant white beans are in abundance come springtime in Sicily, which also makes dried beans a popular off season choice. And of course, just like in French cuisine, anchovies make a regular appearance in many dishes. So with butter beans, tomatoes, olive oil, red onion, anchovies, garlic and fresh herbs, this my version of a simple Italian white bean salad.
Type of beans to use for this salad
My personal favourite are giant white beans (known as butter beans or fava beans). However, you can use whatever type of white bean you personally love, whether canned or dried. However, I highly recommend Italian butter beans — you’ll find either dried or canned (Bianchi di Spagna) at your local organic food store. They’re bigger than cannellini beans, and have a creamy, tender bite to them.
I love this white bean salad recipe because….
You can make it ahead of time! This is one of those salads that really hold up well and spending some time in the fridge also allows the flavours to meld together. So if you want to make it a few hours before serving, by all means do! And if you want it looking really fresh, simply mix in the fresh herbs before serving.
This Italian white bean salad is also really adaptable. It’s also one of those salads, you can serve as BBQ side dish, enjoy as a light lunch (or take to work lunch), or even serve as a topper for adding to a base of green salad leaves. And, if you a big fan of briny flavours, you can add some capers or olives to this salad to give it even more oomph.
If you like this recipe, then you might like:
- Turkish White Bean Salad (Piyaz)
- Greek Style Jumbo White Bean Salad
- Mediterranean Mixed Bean Salad
- Mediterranean Tuna and White Bean Salad
- Asparagus Salad with Mixed Beans, Lemon and Herbs
Italian White Bean Salad with Tomatoes
For the salad:
- 225 g dried jumbo white beans, soaked in water overnight (500 g cooked) or 2 x 400 g cans beans, drained and rinsed
- 300 g mini-roma or cherry tomatoes,, halved
- 40 g oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 5-6 halves)
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 small handful mint leaves, chopped
For the dressing:
- 1 glove garlic, minced
- 2 anchovy fillets (or more to taste), finely chopped then mashed with a fork to form a paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
To prepare dried beans: Drain and rinse the soaked beans. In a large pot, add the beans and cover with 5 cm cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, gently stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, but still hold their shape (60-90 minutes). Drain any excess water and allow the beans to cool down before preparing the salad.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (garlic, anchovies, vinegar, Dijon, oil, salt and pepper) until emulsified. Set aside.
Place the beans, tomatoes, red onion, and herbs in a serving bowl. Toss lightly.
Add the dressing and toss to coat. Serve and enjoy!
- This salad can also be made in advance, as it gives it a chance for the flavours meld. You can make it up to 3 hours in advance, or store it in the fridge in an airtight container overnight.
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