3 Alternative Bean Salad: Mad Food Science Experiments Continue [Revised 7/5/10]

by Paul Fischer

[Edited 7/5: As often happens when Eegor is around things get confused. While checking this posting I was interrupted by a crisis he caused. It seems he took some of my embalming fluid (don’t ask) and decided to open a lemonade stand. Good thing I won fastest time to making a stomach pump from a household appliance 3 years running at Mad Science U. The long and the short of it is I forgot 2 ingredients. I will add them in bold for those who have already read this post.]

I’ve been a fan of the classic three bean salad since I was a kid. The taste brings me back to childhood picnics and lunch at my aunt’s house on their deck or just in the back yard. I didn’t set out to make it, but I discovered the ingredients in my house quite by accident.

Yesterday morning we descended upon amazing Falls Church Farmer’s Market and stormed the produce sellers. We had limited time, as we were soon off to a birthday party. I was certain the green beans and shelled green peas I bought last week at Giant were bad. So I picked up more green beans and what I thought were peas. Actually, what I bought were green black eyed peas (so technically the guy didn’t lie to me).

I was surprised to discover the Giant produce had survived in the chill chest for a whole week. And this launched the conundrum, “What the heck am I going to do with three kinds of beans?”



…flashback to childhood…

3 Alternative Bean Salad was born in that moment and the ladies at tonight’s 4th of July dinner gave it such rave reviews that I’m not even going to wait and tinker before publishing the recipe.

Fresh green beans

Fresh sweet green peas

Fresh (green?) black eyed peas (**see note at bottom**)

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)

1/4 cup sugar

Salt & pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp kosher salt and a few grinds of while and green peppercorns. My battery operated black pepper grinder was offline for battery replacement and the baby was sleeping. I can never replace the batteries in the thing without making a racket and cursing a whole lot, so I opted for the manual grinders.)

Dijon mustard (I used about 1.5 tsp of the good stuff)

Hot sauce to taste (I used about 6 shakes of a Goya habanero blend)

Fresh Cilantro

Lime Juice (I used bottle, but fresh is always best)


Take each of the beans and do the following to them separately:

  1. Prepare an ice water bath and find a strainer that will fit in it.
  2. Clean them in a strainer under running water
  3. For the green beans, remove the unwanted head and tail bits. Leave them as long as you can.
  4. Steam them so they’re cooked al dente. For me, this is about 10 minutes in my electric steamer.
  5. When the steaming is done immediately put them back in a strainer and put them in the ice water bath you prepared beforehand.
  6. Strain and dry the beans then refrigerate.

When all of your beans are ready, select about 1 cup of each. Chop the green beans into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Put all the beans into your desired storage container. I used a 4 cup oval tupperware unit I’ve had for over a decade.

Make the juice:

Put the vinegar in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking. When done keep whisking until well mixed. (If the baby hadn’t been asleep I’d have used the stick blender with the food processor attachment. But she was, so I whisked by hand. Oy! What a pain) Add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro and whisk in until throughly mixed.

Pour the juice over the beans. Cover. (Hopefully you’re using an air tight container otherwise shaking and mixing is going to get messy, in which case you want a rain coat and a trip outdoors.)

Chop the cilantro fine and add to the bean mix and juice.

Shake the beans in the juice for 30 to 61 seconds. Put in the fridge. Check back in an hour and do shake again.

About an hour later, serve to discerning guests (or your family).


**** Note: I’ve never seen fresh black eyed peas before. Since the dried variety are always white, I expected fresh ones to be white as well. Mine weren’t, they were green. It is quite possible these are mutant zombie ninja green black eyed peas in which case I’m probably in big trouble. However, it is equally possible that they are some known and inoffensive type of black eyed pea I’ve never heard of before. Maybe one of you nice people will comment on the color of fresh black eyed peas and clue me in. It’s not like I’m connected to the world’s largest and most up to date information source ever in the history of mankind. So I need your help.

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