This quick and easy Three Bean Salad is a combination of several different kinds of beans (green, yellow and white), plus a pop of colour from cherry tomatoes and red onion. The dressing is a simple combination of lemon, Dijon, garlic, olive oil and fresh summer tarragon. Together it’s a fresh tasting, versatile and healthy side dish.
What is three bean salad?
A three bean salad is one of those North American classics that can be found in almost every family with just as many variations. It’s a great make ahead salad, that is filling, affordable and nutritious. It is typically made with green beans and two types of canned or cooked and chilled beans: kidney beans and white beans (which could vary from cannellini beans, to butter beans to chickpeas). The combination of blanched fresh beans and cooked beans are then tossed with a tangy dressing that gets its flavour from from fresh herbs and Dijon. In this version, I use two types of fresh beans and one type of cooked bean, plus a tarragon-infused dressing. For a fresh twist, I also add cherry tomatoes for a pop of color and extra goodness.
Three bean salad — versatile and easily adaptable
Unless you are a regular visitor of your local farmers market, it may be difficult to find yellow wax beans. Not to fret, this bean salad could easily be made completely with green beans in their place. As for the canned beans, you could use fresh broad beans (fava beans) in their place, or trade them out for a different type of canned bean. Butter beans (Bianchi di Spagna), cannellini beans or chickpeas, are all good choices.
Tarragon in cooking
Tarragon (also called estragon), is mainstay in French cooking and because of its unique and delicate anise-like flavor, it is famously used in the preparation of Bearnaise sauce and is often used when serving asparagus, fish, chicken, and eggs. It has a multi-dimensional flavor that is a wonderful addition to salad dressings thanks to it’s bright, herbaceous aroma that pairs well with the acidity of lemon or vinegar. This tarragon dressing goes equally as well with green beans, as it does with green salads, or vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, fennel, radishes and more!
What to serve with this mixed bean salad
I especially love to serve a fresh-tasting mixed bean salad with more substantial summer salads, such as potato salad. In particular my horseradish potato salad or German potato salad. However, it is also especially good with grilled fish, steaks, or roasted chicken. And since, it holds up well, it also makes a great side dish for BBQs or picnics served with veggies burgers or anything else off the grill.
If you love green beans, you might also love these bean salad recipes:
Try one of these favourites:
- Green Bean Tomato Salad
- Beluga Lentil Salad with Green Beans & Lemon-Mint Dressing
- Roasted Green Beans with Lemon and Dill
- Green Bean Salad with Walnuts, Dates and Roquefort
- Green Bean Potato Salad
Three Bean Salad with Tarragon Dressing
For the salad:
- 250 g green beans, trimmed
- 250 g ,yellow wax beans trimmed
- 1 x 400 g can white beans (butter beans or cannellini), drained and rinsed
- 200 g heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- toasted and chopped walnuts, to garnish (optional)
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from an organic lemon)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fill bowl with ice water. In large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the green beans until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Or to desired tenderness. With slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking further. Repeat with yellow beans.
Once beans are cool, drain and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Cut the green and yellow beans in half and transfer to a large serving bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients (lemon juice, mustard, garlic, oil, tarragon, lemon zest, salt and pepper) until well combined.
Add the white beans, tomatoes, onion and parsley to the bowl with the green and yellow beans. Pour over the dressing and toss gently to combine.
If desired, garnish with a few toasted and chopped walnuts (or serve on the side). Enjoy!
- If you prefer, use all green beans or all yellow beans instead of a mix.
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