Summer Oaxaca-Inspired Bean Salad

contributed by Abigail Hammond, MS, RD, LDN

This salad is inspired by a recipe for Oaxaca Bean Salad from Still Life with Menu Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Oaxaca is a state in Southwestern Mexico that I was fortunate to visit in the midst of this past cold, very snowy Boston winter.  Oaxaca was warm, vibrant, and colorful.  Among other things, the market food stands served a warm chocolate drink (cacao beans are grown in the state), various mole dishes, and the freshest fruits.  In honor of Oaxaca, I aspired to make Mollie Katzen’s recipe…soon realizing that I didn’t have the ‘exact’ ingredients on hand.  So I used what I had, added a bit of bulgur, accidentally forgot the garlic—and it turned out perfect.

(P.s., If you are turned off by the dried beans or do not have time for soaking, roughly two 28-oz cans should work just fine.)

Summer Bean Salad (Serves 8)

2 cups dried kidney beans

1/3 cup raw bulgur

5 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ to ¾ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup finely minced red onion

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 red bell pepper, minced

Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Crushed red pepper, to taste

½ cup (packed) minced fresh basil

½ cup (packed) minced fresh parsley

Optional add-in: 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced


  1. Soak the beans in plenty of water for several hours.  Rinse and place in a large saucepan.  Cover the beans with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  As soon as the water boils, cover and turn down the heat.  Allow the beans to cook gently until tender (about 1 hour—keep checking and add water as needed).
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the bulgur:  Bring 2/3 cup water to boil in a small saucepan.  Add the bulgur, remove from heat, and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. When the beans reach desired tenderness, remove the pan from heat and drain the beans in a colander.  Rinse the beans under cold water; then transfer to a medium-large mixing bowl.
  4. Add remaining ingredients except fresh basil and parsley.  Mix thoroughly but gently, cover tightly, and chill for at least 3 hours.  Add the fresh herbs, mix, cover, and refrigerate until serving.

Meal Plan Connection

We recommend portioning on your own as you work on normalized eating.  This salad can work nicely as an entrée (1-1 ½ cup serving) with some warm bread, cheese, and fresh pineapple chunks on the side.  Alternatively, it can be a side salad for any summer gathering or main entrée of grilled fish or shrimp, or fajitas.  If you are on an exchange-based meal plan, click here for the exchanges:

(1 cup serving: 1 Grain, 1 Protein, 1 Fat)