Perfect Picnic-Potluck Salad

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

Now that we can safely say the snow is gone (until November, that is, or maybe October), it’s time to move the dinner table outdoors. Minnesotans take advantage of the warm weather the summer brings, and many find their calendars filling up with picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. With each invitation comes the inevitable question: “What do you want me to bring?” If you’re assigned a salad, dump the gloppy mayonnaise-based dishes and give this fresh-tasting version a try.

Created out of the dwindling contents of the refrigerator and pantry one evening, this salad — a dreamy combination that highlights the creaminess of the beans, the sweetness of the pepper, and the crunch of the cucumber — is a snap to make and even easier to make your own. Don’t like cannellini beans? Use your preferred legume. Out of red wine vinegar? Drizzle on the champagne or balsamic variety instead. No fresh rosemary around? Try thyme or shredded basil. Double or triple the ingredients to feed a crowd, or use the quantities below to prepare enough for a family of four. Toss the salad together the night before your event so the flavors can meld in the refrigerator overnight, and you’ve got a crowd-pleasing side dish that you can savor all summer long.

Rosemary-Scented Bean Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 (15-oz) can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
1 red or orange pepper, chopped
1 c chopped seedless cucumber
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. For optimal flavors, place in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before tossing and serving.


  1. artsy

    This is my kind of salad- thanks. My only comment would be that if you make it the day before, I’d wait to put in the chopped cucumbers because they have a bad habit of getting slimy…

  2. Midwesterner

    Great photo – made me go “ooohhh”. And practical recipe I can use for our July reunion potluck. Thanks.

  3. Jill

    artsy – I’ve actually never had the problem of slimy cucumbers when making this salad. I made the salad in the picture last Tuesday, and when I ate the leftovers on Thursday the cucumbers were slime-free. Perhaps the vinaigrette helps to preserve the texture?

  4. Amy P.

    Yum, this looks good and easy too, I’ll have to try it. I’m growing rosemary now just because I like it but it’s not typically called for in many summer recipes. Now I’ll have a way to use it!

  5. Susan P.

    Jill, I made your bean salad and it was delicious — the first day and for lunch the next. Thanks!

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