Bean Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

by May 14, 2024

There’s no magic to bean salad or what some people call marinated beans: start with beans and add a dressing. This one I based on the bean salad recipe from Nepenthe in Big Sur, using tender new shoots of tarragon from starts I purchased at Woods Rose Market and am waiting to plant (because, Montana…ifkyk). I had garbanzos, giant white Coronas, and black beans in my refrigerator so I used those, but any white bean, fresh or canned, or a mix of white, red (kidney beans), black, and/or green beans will make a great bean salad. At serving time, a bed of undressed salad greens keeps the beans from rolling all over your plate and the bean salad = instant dressing!

As I always say, “taste your ingredients,” especially vinegars and oils. Use a thin, sour vinegar and your salad is going to taste thin and sour. Use a deliciously complex vinegar and your salad is going to taste deliciously complex.

Reference: How to Cook Beans

Bean Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

serves 6–8; adapted from "Garbanzo and Kidney Bean Salad" in  Romney Steele's My Nepenthe


  • 1 shallot or ¼ red onion, minced, or thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup red wine or sherry vinegar Banyuls (red) or Sanchez Romate for sherry
  • 4 cups cooked white beans and their friends, drained and rinsed cooked from dry or two 15-ounce cans
  • 3 green onions, or similar bunch of chives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. Add shallot or red onion to the vinegar and allow to rest for a few minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.

  2. Add beans to a large bowl. Sprinkle in the green onions or chives, tarragon, garlic-salt mash, sugar, and black pepper. Drizzle with the vinegar-shallot/red onion and olive oil. Gently combine and let stand for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to coalesce. Refrigerate any leftovers.

    (Olive oil will harden when refrigerated, but don't fret. A few minutes at room temperature and it will return to its liquid self.)


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