Make it Naked

Italian Bean Salad

I sat here staring at the computer screen for a while trying to decide on what story to share with you for this recipe.

I could tell you about how my sister and I created the recipe while sitting still in traffic on I-95. Creating recipes keeps me from banging my head against the steering wheel.

I could tell you that we made this for the 4th of July and it was a major hit. Really, beans. I wouldn’t lie to you.

I could tell you that I went to the grocery store 3 different times for this recipe because each time I forgot something critical, like beans. I wish I was lying to you.

But really, none of that is too exciting. What’s exciting here is this salad. I used to be sort of indifferent when it came to beans. I ate them because I knew they were good for me, but I never got excited for them. OK maybe this one time. But I never craved beans…until now. This truly is the best bean salad I’ve ever had. And I want to eat it every day for the rest of the summer. Dramatic? Sure, but necessary. It’s that good.

When I used to think of Italian bean salad, salad bars came to mind. The ones that have that standard mixture of beans and tangy, processed Italian dressing. And then I don’t want to think about it anymore. But here, tender cannellini beans, shavings of Parmesan cheese and sun-dried tomatoes are tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, basil and parsley. It’s served chilled and perfect for summer. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop eating it.

On the 4th we used canned beans, but I made it again using dried beans. You know, the ones I forgot 3 times. I finally soaked them, boiled them and simmered them for an hour….only to find that I really don’t think it’s worth the trouble here. Maybe it’s because the beans don’t simmer in a sauce like these, absorbing all the flavors in the pan, but I really couldn’t tell too much of a difference. Both were amazingly delicious. So just use what you have. Or don’t and go to the store three times. It’s worth it.

Italian Bean Salad

3 -15oz cans of cannellini beans (or 1-16oz bag of dried beans)
1 block of Parmesan cheese for shaving (about 1.5-2 oz shaved)
3/4-1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used Kosher salt)


  1. If using dried beans, soak, boil and simmer as described on package. If using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans.
  2. In a small bowl, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, juice of 1/2 a lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Let sit for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the salad. Stir a few times. This will soften up the sun-dried tomatoes a bit.
  3. Combine the beans, chopped herbs and sun-dried tomato mixture in a large bowl and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if the salad seems dry. Gently fold in the shaved Parmesan.
  4. Cover and let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.


  1. If using dried beans, be sure that your beans are totally cooled before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Be sure to taste the salad before you salt it. Both canned beans and sun-dried tomatoes can have added salt, so you may not need much.
  3. My sun-dried tomatoes were not soaked in oil because I wanted to make my own light dressing. I’m sure you could use pre-soaked sun-dried tomatoes and make this even easier by skipping step 2 above. I’d still add some lemon juice though.
  4. Jon wants you to know that he added crushed red pepper and it was awesome. He might start a food blog.

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Posted on July 9, 2011

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