Savory Black Bean Salad is a recipe I learned to make on an educational trip to Mexico.
Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Mexico many times. Because I studied Spanish for seven years, I decided to immerse myself in the language and culture.
Visiting the home of a new friend I made in Mexico, I was invited to dine with the family about ten minutes after they had welcomed me into their home.
That’s not uncommon in Mexico, as they are hospitable people. And, they will share whatever they have with their guests, con mucho gusto, meaning: with much pleasure. The phrase “mi casa es su casa” (my house, is your house) is not just a saying but a way of life.
In fact, guests in Mexican homes are treated like family but with special honor. That honor is that you are mothered and fussed over and fed. But, you aren’t required to help wash the colorful Mexican dishes!
Mexican Salad is not Called Salsa!
My friend’s mother, Linda, served the most delicious salad I’d ever tasted. However, I made a faux pas (or paso en falso, in Spanish) and called it salsa. As it turns out, that’s a serious infraction in Mexico. They take their salsa seriously, and that’s no joke.
Salsa is the translation of the English word “sauce.” It’s used as a condiment, relish, and for dipping in Mexico. Salads are salads and salsas are salsas. And, so I was firmly but kindly corrected on my error.
But, that was okay. After all, I was there to master the language and learn more about the culture. When all was said and done, we shared a good laugh over it.
Nothing Goes to Waste in a True Mexican Kitchen
Another interesting fact that I learned from Linda was that nothing is wasted in a Mexican kitchen. Ever!
For some, it’s reminiscent of our grandparents, who reused aluminum foil until it fell apart. Or perhaps that’s your own lifestyle now. We’re gardeners raised by parents and grandparents who were a lot like Linda, so we also try to use every drop and morsel, every twine and jar we can repurpose.
Most Mexicans live simply and without pretense. They take nothing for granted and practiced zero-waste living before it was a trend. They harvest herbs and plants from their yard and garden, and know to use things like avocado leaves for flavoring dishes.
So, Linda made this bean salad — ensalada de frijoles in Spanish — several days a week. While the salad was dressed the same and the black beans were a constant, the other ingredients changed.
Why? Because making this salad allowed her to utilize every single vegetable and discard nothing. Also, this simple method cut down on her weekly grocery expenses because she purchases the main ingredients in bulk sizes.
All in all, I’d say Linda is a pretty smart lady as well as a fantastic cook!
Now that you have met Linda, this is how you make her delicious black bean salad.
Savory Mexican Black Bean Salad
Create a savory black bean salad in just minutes. Perfect for a vegan main course or a zippy side dish that will impress.
- 15 oz. can of black beans
- Orange bell pepper (or whatever color you have available)
- Cherry tomatoes (1 pint box)
- 1/4 yellow onion
- Bunch of fresh cilantro
- Several stems of fresh parsley
- Ground cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 packet of stevia (or other sweetener)
- Open up the can of black beans, and put them in a cold water bath for 15 minutes.
- As the beans soak, chop and prep all your veggies and wash and prep your herbs.
- Mix the dressing in a large salad bowl: this is the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, seasonings, herbs and one packet of stevia to cut the acidity.
- Strain the black beans and mix them into the salad dressing.
- Add in the cut up vegetables. Cover tightly and refrigerate for an hour before serving.
SWEETENERS: if you don't have stevia you can omit or substitute with 1 teaspoon of sugar, sucanat, honey, maple syrup or molasses.
Serving Size1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 148Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 6mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 6gSugar 2gProtein 5g
Recipe Notes, Substitutions and Alternatives
I have taken the liberty of customizing this salad to suit my dietary needs and fitness goals. But in keeping with the spirit of the dish, go first and foremost with whatever ingredients and substitutes you have on hand and it should still be good. But if you’re making your shopping list from scratch, here are some substitution ideas.
- Swap vegetable oil for olive oil – more expensive but more healthy
- Cherry or grape tomatoes – I used cherry tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes. They’re cute in the dish and easy to half and add
- Yellow, purple or green bell peppers (or whatever color is on hand; bright color contrasts add more visual delight. Marconi peppers also work well for this.
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar for one packet of stevia. I try to avoid sugar whenever possible these days. That’s one way I’ve lost lots of excess weight and am keeping it off, through simple substitutions, AKA “food swaps” of healthier options over less healthy ones.
Feel free to do as Linda does, and use whatever fresh vegetables that you happen to have on hand.
Whether you have a leftover ear of corn or a few baby carrots left in the bottom of a bag, or fresh veggies from the garden, chop and toss them in there!
Try This Easy Mexican Salad
Try serving this unfussy salad the next time you have a last-minute get together or forgot to defrost dinner. It’s created from pantry staples and veggies that you probably have on hand already.
Plus, you’ll join Linda and the zero-waste movement by utilizing those vegetables from the bottom drawer of your fridge.
Craving more bean recipes? Take a look at our satisfying Vegetarian Bean Burgers.