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About 15 years ago, a friend of mine bought what they called a "Mexican Bean Salad" to a BBQ at my house. I took that as inspiration and changed the flavours around and I've been making this almost as long! It's a summer staple at our house, and for good reason - it's packed with plant-based fibre and protein.

This salad works perfectly along a lean grilled protein. I like to serve it with a grilled chicken breast, and it works well as a meal on its own or even wrapped in a tortilla for extra carbs.

We all should try and eat more beans. They're so good for us and carry flavours very well. This is a great recipe for getting more legumes into your diet!

One of the best things about this salad is how visually impressive it is! There are so many colours, it always draws comments when I bring it to a BBQ or serve as a side salad.

Mexican bean salad ingredients

  • Beans - the recipe calls for chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans. Canned is fine, but be aware that not all varieties are equal. If you find the beans too soft & mushy try a different brand, or you could cook your own ahead of time if you're well organised!
  • Sweet corn - canned sweet corn brings some sweetness and a fantastic yellow colour.
  • Capsicum/Bell pepper - I suggest using two different colours; in the recipe I use 1 red and 1 yellow.
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic - this brings a nice background hum. I generally don't like garlic in salads but feel this salad does benefit from it.
  • Coriander leaves/cilantro - I get it, not everyone likes this and find it tastes like soap. This is actually genetic - the OR6A2 receptor - so if you'd prefer, you can leave it out, or sub it for parsley.
  • Extra virgin olive oil - this is not a traditional Mexican ingredient. They'd probably use corn oil or avocado oil - so feel free to use that if you prefer. EVOO gives the fat to bind the dressing to the salad ingredients. I chose to use EVOO because you probably have it, and corn and avocado oils can be challenging to find.
  • Limes - we use the juice for acidity and the zest to add the flavour and scent of limes. If you prefer, you can sub for red wine vinegar.
  • Cumin - brings a great earthiness to the salad.
  • Jalapeño and chilli powder or hot sauce - use to balance the heat of the dish to your preferences. I like to use a green jalapeño to contrast with the red and yellow capsicums. For hot sauce, use whichever vinegar-based hot sauce you like.
  • Salt and pepper as always, to taste.
  • Sugar - optionally used to offset lime tartness. Not really necessary if you use red wine vinegar.
  • Avocado

How to make Mexican bean salad.

  1. Prepare all your ingredients. Drain and rinse all the beans. Drain the corn. Dice the onion finely, along with the capsicum/bell peppers. Cut the avocado into medium dice. Slice the coriander/cilantro and finely dice the jalapeño. Mince the garlic if using.

  2. Add to salad bowl - add the beans, corn, onion, capsicum/bell peppers, jalapeño, coriander/cilantro to the salad bowl.

  3. Make dressing - add the extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, zest, cumin powder and garlic if using to a bowl, jug or jar with a lid (1). Whisk or shake (in the case of a jar) until combined (2). Pour over the salad.

  4. Adjust heat and season - try the salad and if you want it to be spicier, start adding hot sauce or chilli powder if you feel you need more. Season to taste with salt and pepper and the sugar if using, and give everything a good stir through.

  5. Add avocado if using and gently stir through - don't be too rough because it will break apart.

Tips

  • Canned beans can be mushy, so if you find the texture isn't right try other brands. You can also cook your own beans which will give you control over how tender they are.
  • This salad is a little spicy; leave the chilli out if you prefer.
  • Always freshly juice the limes - don't use shelf stable "lime juice".
  • If you would prefer a sweeter dressing, add a little sugar to the dressing. This will offset the acidity of the limes.
  • Add the avocado after you've adjusted the heat, so that it doesn't break apart while you're stirring.

Can the salad be made ahead of time?

Yes, this salad keeps well in the fridge for a few days -there are no soft leafy greens to wilt. When you're ready to eat, place however much salad you think you'll eat in the sitting in a bowl and allow to come to room temperature.

Just to err on the side of caution, don't return any salad that has been bought to room temperature back to the fridge.

What other beans could I use?

The recipe calls for black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. If there's something you don't like, or you just want a change, you could try:

  • Pinto beans
  • Peruano beans
  • Navy beans or cannellini beans - these aren't a traditional Mexican ingredient but i used them in place of chickpeas once and they worked well!

How much chilli should I use?

This is completely dependent on your tolerance levels for spice and those who you're serving it to. I like to deseed and dice a few jalapeño and if I find out it needs more heat, I add a little chilli powder.

Most of the heat is in the seeds and membrane of the chilli. Remove both, because neither are pleasant to eat, particularly in a salad.

What to serve with the Mexican Bean Salad

  • Serve alongside grilled chicken breast, steak, fish or prawns for a complete and healthy dinner.
  • Optionally slice the protein and place into a tortilla along with the salad.

Mexican Bean Salad

Unrated
Prep Total
15 mins 15 mins
Serves 6-8
A vibrant, flavour packed salad full of colour and flavour! This Mexican bean salad is perfect served alongside the protein of your choice.
  • 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 400g can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 400g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 400g can of sweet corn, drained
  • 1 small red onion, diced about 75g weight after peeling
  • 1 yellow capsicum, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced optional
  • 30g coriander, sliced discard the stem where the leaves start
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 limes, juiced and zested or sup 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, see note 2
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded, diced see note 3
  • Chilli powder or hot sauce optional and used to balance heat - see note 3
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp sugar optional and to taste - offsets the acidity of the limes
  • 1 avocado, diced optional - ripe, but not too soft
Steps
  1. To a large salad bowl, add the chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, corn, red onion, yellow and red capsicum, jalapeños and the coriander/cilantro leaves.
  2. In a small jug, add the extra virgin olive oil, lime juice and zest and cumin powder, along with the minced garlic if using. Whisk well to combine and then pour over the salad.
  3. Try the salad and if you want it to be spicier, start adding hot sauce or chilli powder if you feel you need more. Season to taste with salt and pepper and the sugar if using, and give everything a good stir through.
  4. Add the avocado and very gently stir it through.
Notes
  1. Beans - I use canned chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans, but feel free to use whatever mixture of beans you'd prefer. Some suggestions include pinto, peruano, navy/haricot and cannellini beans. Canned beans offer convenience, but some brands can be mushy. Try different brands if you find what you're using is too soft, or soak and cook your own beans. Make sure you drain and thoroughly rinse the beans to remove all the starch they were sitting in while in the can.
  2. Limes - use 3 small or 2 large limes. Alternatively you can substitute 1/4 cup red wine vinegar if you prefer.
  3. Chilli - omit entirely if spice isn't your thing, or reduce the amount. If you'd prefer, you can also replace the jalapeño with chilli powder which will give you complete control over the heat. Because the heat of chilli can vary depending on variety and how it's grown, I will add the chilli last and add it slowly so I can see how it tastes. When you prepare the jalapeno, slice in lengthways and remove the seeds and membrane - this is where most of the heat is - before dicing it.
  4. Chilli powder and hot sauce - Optional and used to balance the heat to your preferred heat level. Sometimes I like to add hot sauce like Tobasco for a slightly different flavour. Add a little at a time and taste as you go to get it to the heat level you like.

Hey, I'm Sam! Welcome to The Aproneer.

I created The Aproneer to share the recipes that my family and friends love to eat.

Here you'll find a mixture of tried and tested family favourites, great entertaining options and a variety of authentic international dishes.