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A delicious South African 3 bean salad recipe

By April 21, 2023October 11th, 2023FinGlobal

A delicious South African 3 bean salad recipe

April 21, 2023


If there’s one thing besides biltong and braais, Saffa’s love, it’s a lekker three bean salad recipe. How else are you supposed to enjoy your braai-ed-to-perfection steaks without a healthy side of beans? It’s like pizza without the cheese or boerie rolls without the boerie!

What goes into a 3 bean salad?

You may think the FinGlobal team should know the answer to this one! It’s three beans, of course. And you would be correct; even we can see the clue is in the name! However, when it comes to a 3 bean salad recipe, South Africans know the best 3 bean salad recipe contains more than just beans. In fact, if you ask Ouma, the original 3 bean salad recipe should include a South African favourite, a can of baked beans, aka gebakte boontjies. But not just any baked beans; they must be Koo baked beans. Why? Because they ‘can,’ of course!

Corny- jokes aside, the original 3 bean salad recipe you may remember from childhood, contained ingredients like baked beans, green beans, butterbeans, peppers and onions. Today, however, the South African three bean salad recipe has metamorphosed into a luxury braai-side that includes a myriad of mouth-watering ingredients and, of course, three types of beans!

Interesting facts about the three bean salad

  • In the Middle East, three bean salads are called Balela and contain tomatoes, chickpeas, black beans and lemon juice.
  • South America have their own variation containing poroto beans, tomatoes, parsley, oil and vinegar.
  • The South African variation almost always contains baked beans!
  • The origins of three bean salads are a mystery. Some think it hails from the Mediterranean, while others believe it’s American; either way, it’s delicious!
  • The three bean salad is said to have reached its height of fame in the 1950s when outdoor cooking became fashionable across the pond. Of course, Saffas have been cooking over the coals for a lot longer than that, but sadly there’s no evidence to suggest we were eating three bean salads in the 1600s! Unless anyone has access to Ouma’s resep book that says otherwise?

The best three bean salad recipe

The best three bean salad recipe we found when searching for a taste-bud zapping variation was this delectable South African three bean salad. This recipe has all the flavours of the original three bean salad recipe but with an additional zap created by the red chilli in the salad dressing! So roll up your sleeves; you are about to spend ten minutes prepping the tastiest and best 3 bean salad recipe around.

Zappy South African three bean salad

Prep time: 20 minutes + chill time

Serves: 4 people

What you need:

  • 3 cups green beans
  • 1 can butter beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 red chilli minced (seeds and membrane removed)
  • ½ red onion finely diced
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp chopped dill
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

What to do:

  • Cook the green beans in a medium saucepan for approximately 2 minutes. Avoid overcooking the beans, as this will make them mushy; you don’t want mushy beans in your salad! Instead, the beans should be crisp and tender after cooking.
  • Next, drain the hot water off the green beans and rinse them with cold water to stop them from cooking further. Tip the beans into a colander and allow them to drain completely.
  • Whisk the olive oil, chilli, honey, 2 tbsp of dill, lemon juice and zest until completely combined, then add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the green beans, butter beans, kidney beans and diced onion to a large salad bowl.
  • Then pour the salad dressing over the beans and toss gently until the sauce covers the beans completely.
  • Once combined, season the salad with salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice.
  • Finally, garnish your salad using the last tablespoon of chopped dill, serve and enjoy!

The best 3 bean salad recipe, Saffa style

And because we at FinGlobal love three bean salad so much, we just had to share another of our favourites. This variation includes a tasty dollop of Mrs Balls Chutney and baked beans!

What you need:

  • 150 g green beans chopped
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can KOO baked beans
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tbsp Mrs Balls Peach Chutney
  • 1 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 beef stock cube

What to do:

  • Heat the oil and gently saute the garlic, onion, green pepper and green beans. Don’t let the vegetables soften completely; they should retain a crunchy texture.
  • Add the curry powder and stir well; allow the mixture to simmer for 1 minute.
  • Next, add the kidney beans and baked beans. Cook on low heat until the beans have warmed through completely.
  • Now, add the stock cube and stir until completely combined. If your bean mixture becomes too dry, add a splash of water to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
  • Finally, remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley and chutney; stir gently. If you prefer a more fruity flavour, add additional chutney according to your preferred taste.

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