How to Make the Best Bean and Vegetable Salad for Summer Meals (Gluten-Free Recipe)

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Gluten-Free Bean Salad
When I was young, mom and grandma used to make a popular dish called "Three-Bean Salad."

Three-Bean Salad was a sweet, but tangy, summer salad that was made with well-marinated canned green beans, yellow wax beans, and garbanzo beans. For those who didn't like garbanzo beans, you could simply substitute them with canned kidney beans instead.

That's what mom and grandma did.

But that was about as creative as a Three-Bean Salad ever got back then. The dressing was a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing spiked with sugar. Nothing fancy.

Some folks were braver than the others and tossed in a little sliced sweet onion and maybe a pungent clove of minced garlic, or two, but that was it.

When it comes to making great gluten-free food, especially when it's too hot to cook, I've never wanted to settle for anything that is "just okay." I have always played around with a recipe, until I've made it the best it can be.

And this tasty, gluten-free bean and vegetable salad is no exception.

My First Try at Making a Gluten-Free Bean and Vegetable Salad

My first attempt at making a bean and vegetable salad didn't come out very well. I used a can of Eden organic black-eyed peas that I picked up at Sprout's market when we were out visiting yard sales one weekend.

The black-eyed peas were on sale for $1.50, so I thought it would blend well with the canned green beans and the can of sweet corn I had planned on using.

I didn't know if hubby was going to eat bean salad because when he was still smoking, he didn't like macaroni salad made with oil-and-vinegar dressing. For that reason, I simply planned on using whatever I already had in the house plus the black-eyed peas.

Black-eyed peas are his favorite bean.

Yes, I know that black-eyed peas are a vegetable and not a real legume, but it's just easier to lump them together with other legumes since they carry a similar carbohydrate load.

The dressing for a bean salad is super sweet. Hubby's tastes have dramatically changed over the past couple of years since he stopped smoking, so I made a very small batch of salad and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the Eden organic black-eyed peas were a mess!

And I'm not exaggerating.

They were crushed, hard, crunchy, and gave me a serious stomach ache whenever I tried to eat the salad.

Plus, the salad looked horrible.

It was definitely not something I would serve to company, so I didn't take a picture of it. It looked that bad. But we ate it anyway because the dressing was good, and hubby sort of liked it.

I contacted Eden Organic to let them know that I was dissatisfied with the product, that we are on a limited budget, and we couldn't afford to throw food away. I also told them I wouldn't be buying their product again, but they didn't even dignify me with a computerized reply.

My Second Attempt at Making Bean and Vegetable Salad

My second attempt at making a good bean and vegetable salad went very well.

I took the lessons I had learned from my first experience and made sure not to repeat the same mistakes. I adapted the things that needed a little tweaking.

For example, there really wasn't enough dressing on the first salad. I had to keep flipping the Rubbermaid bowl upside down inside the refrigerator to make sure that all the beans and vegetables were covered with the dressing for at least part of the day.

With my second try, I simply made more dressing. I used Great Value brand black-eyed peas from Walmart (which were wonderful, by the way), a can of Great Value brand black beans, and a small package of frozen mixed vegetables.

The result was fantastic!

This is a very versatile recipe. You can actually use any combination of beans and vegetables you like. In the picture below, I used canned kidney beans and green beans, so take advantage of sales or what's in season within your own local area.

Just make sure and keep track of the combinations you try, so you can repeat the ones you like the best.

The Best Bean and Vegetable Salad Ever (Gluten-Free Recipe)

Salad Ingredients:

16-ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables
16-ounce can green or yellow beans, drained and rinsed
16-ounce can beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup chopped red onions
3/4 cup chopped any color sweet pepper you like

Dressing Ingredients:

3/4 cup white vinegar (probably could use apple cider vinegar)
3/4 cup white sugar (just use a sugar substitute if you don't eat real sugar)
6 tablespoons of oil (I used peanut oil, but you could use olive oil if you like it)
1-1/2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning Mix
1-1/2 teaspoons of Italian Seasonings
half a bunch of minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

Cook the mixed vegetables at a low simmer for about 10 minutes, until they are as done as you want them to be.

If you're using frozen lima beans, I would cook them separately because they tend to take a lot longer to cook than standard vegetables do.

Alternatively, you could use any type of vegetables you like:
frozen or canned corn
frozen peas and carrots
chopped broccoli
sliced mushrooms
asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces
brussels sprouts cut in half and steamed

Whatever vegetables you choose, you'll need about a pound.

Drain the vegetables, and bring them to room temperature. If you're rushed for time, you can put them into a glass bowl, uncovered, and pop them into the freezer. When cool, add the 2 cans of beans, onions, and peppers.

If you can't eat peppers, just leave them out. I normally pick up red ones, due to their higher Vitamin C content, but if there's a huge price difference or something is on sale, I'll go with the better priced one.

The same goes for the dressing ingredients. If you can't do nightshades, leave out the Mrs. Dash and use any herb blend you like that doesn't contain undisclosed spices or paprika. You could also throw in whatever herbs and spices you can eat: basil, rosemary, cumin, etc.

Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a medium-sized bowl and stir it well. The sugar is not going to dissolve, so just mix everything together the best you can.

Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients, stir well, and chill the salad in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving. You want the amount of dressing to completely cover the salad ingredients, but you don't need any more than that.

The longer the salad marinates in the refrigerator, the tastier and tangier the salad will be. I usually try to give the salad a nice stir once or twice a day while it's marinating, and make it about two to three days ahead.

To serve this salad, you will want to use a slotted spoon and dish it up into small bowls, so the dressing doesn't ruin the rest of your meal. You could also drain the entire salad in a colander for a few minutes, if you're serving a crowd.


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