Looking for an easy packed lunch or picnic side? This Pesto White Bean Salad is a perfect option! It’s ready in minutes and full of fresh, bright summer flavors.
What is pesto white bean salad?
Pesto White Bean Salad is a picnic-friendly side dish recipe made from protein-rich legumes, crunchy cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes covered in a basil pesto sauce. It is ready in about 5 minutes with no oven required. On top of that, this recipe is very customizable, vegan, and gluten-free.
What kinds of beans will work for this recipe?
Any soft white beans will work in this salad! I recommend navy (white kidney) beans or cannellini beans, as they have a great texture and are very easy to source. Chickpeas are a bit firmer but will also suffice. Butter beans are my favorite but are harder to find! You are very lucky if you have royal corona beans on hand.
If you decide to go the canned bean route (I did, for convenience), be advised that most canned beans come in a very salty brine (known as aquafaba) that you’ll want to rinse off prior to serving. This may impact the level of salt you’ll want to add the the salad, so always taste as you go along.
Tips for Making Your Own Vegan Pesto
To make your own pesto, add 1/2 cup walnuts to a food processor with a large pinch of salt and one large garlic clove. Process to combine. Add 1/2 cup cashew parmesan, a squeeze of lemon juice, and pulse once more to blend. Top the processor with a few heaping cups of fresh basil. While processor is running, stream in olive oil until you have a very saucy consistency. It can take quite a bit of oil to get to this stage.
If you’re running low on basil, parsley will work very well in its place. This pesto is best when stored in the freezer and thawed just before use. Be aware that the color may diminish as it sits (becoming less vibrant) but the taste will not be impacted.
How to Customize Pesto White Bean Salad
- Use any white bean you have available (such as cannellini, garbanzo, navy, or butter beans).
- During the summer, chopped heirloom tomatoes can be used in place of cherries.
- Zucchini can be substituted for cucumber.
- Parsley can be substituted for fresh basil.
- To turn this into a full meal, add in some cooked pasta or serve alongside some crusty sourdough bread.