Not Your Grandmother’s Three Bean Salad

  • Nov 15, 2017

Not Your Grandmother’s Three Bean Salad

Family braai’s always happened on Sundays, whether you were nursing last night’s good time or planning a chilled lazy day, Sunday was always braai day. There was always one incredible woman who brought us all together, my grandmother, and with her came the ever-present 3 bean salad. And we’re pretty sure the same is true for most families! I might vary it slightly, but the general base is always there and I always like to think she would be pleased with the addition of a few ingredients.

We added chickpeas instead of a regular third bean and found that this brought some lightness to the dish. The addition of cumin and mustard seeds adds a lovely earthiness to an otherwise quite acidic dish. – grandma would be so proud of my thinking. Because Kaeli and I aren’t generally cumin fans, we find the flavour quite overpowering, we always add a little less than most people would but we can’t ignore the wonderful depth it gives a meal. Beans provide countless health benefits, and they fit into several different food groups, and aside from containing an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they pack a pretty punch in the protein category. Many vegetarians and vegans have battled with the age-old question that many a meat eater enjoys asking “but where do you get your protein”. Well, friends, beans and legumes. Beans are one of the highest plant-based sources of protein and contain one thing that meat lacks, phytochemicals, a compound found only in plant-based proteins. They are high in antioxidants, a class of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free radicals in the body, which has been linked as a cause of diseases from cancer to Parkinson’s.

Beans are renowned for their fibre content and because of this, they help aid in the digestion process, by providing fuel for the healthy bacteria in the colon. Though beans are an incredible source of protein and minerals, canned beans are not always soaked properly to ensure the reduction of phytic acids. Phytic acid is a nutrient that binds to the minerals in your gut reducing the absorption of those beneficial minerals. One way of avoiding this little mishap is to think ahead, it may require a little effort but sprouting your beans ahead of time is one way to get the most out of your beans, and help your digestion in the process. To sprout your beans simply add your dry beans in a bowl or jar, add triple the amount of water and let sit overnight. Drain and rinse your beans and let them sit in the colander for another 12 hours. Rinse every 12 hours until you get sprouts about 1/8-1/2 inch long. Then store them in the fridge and use up within a week. This may sound like a world of effort, but remember you can use them for an entire week. So make a large batch and use them for all those lunches, and for a 3 bean salad.

This 3 bean salad is so easy to make in bulk that it puts all those sprouting efforts to good use. Its good at a Sunday braai, lunch the Monday, side dish the Tuesday for dinner or just for that lovely dinner party you might plan on having next week. This bean salad is packed with nutrients and alkalizing ingredients that your gut will be thanking you all week. Parsley is a little life hack we added to our ingredient list, it’s not only a little gut helper but actually neutralises the smelly breathe you get from raw onion. So fear not, you’re free to chat away, even after eating all the bean salad your lovely heart desires.

All the ingredients work so wonderfully together, from the balance of the spices and vinegar to the little help parsley gives us, this 3 bean salad is one to keep on hand and have ready for those impromptu braai’s that happen ever so often. Feel free to change it up, add ingredients or subtract, as long as you have your base any combination of ingredients is possible.


  • 400g Black Beans
  • 400g Chickpeas
  • 400g Borlotti Beans
  • 1/4 cup Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Celery Stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1tsp Cumin Seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 1tsp Mustard Seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother. Always)
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
  1. Drain and rinse all your tinned beans and chickpeas well.
  2. Add them to a large bowl along with your finely chopped onion, parsley, garlic and celery. Mix gently to combine.
  3. In a small jar/bowl whisk together your crushed cumin seeds, mustard seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Adding more apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for sourness and brightness. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add this to the large bowl with your 3 beans, toss together and set aside until serving.
  5. Serve cold and enjoy!