This post is sponsored by Gourmet Garden. The ideas and opinions are my own. I love sharing products that fit into my busy family’s healthy eating lifestyle. Thank you for supporting brands that make it possible to keep Half Her Size running.
Thanks to the simple fresh flavors, this lemon dill navy bean salad has a lightness you might not expect from a bean salad. Creamy navy beans dressed with bright lemon and the lightly sweet tang of dill make this salad supremely satisfying on a hot day. This simple salad makes a wonderful side dish for backyard barbecues or casual picnics.
- Quick & easy no-cook side dish recipe perfect for summer parties, picnics, and back yard barbecues
- Vegetarian and gluten-free recipe
- Excellent source of fiber and protein; very filling.
A few weeks ago I threw myself a birthday party. It was the best present. I was honored to host some of the best ladies I know for my take on a girly birthday party all grown up.
But I almost didn’t do it. Part of me felt silly writing an invitation asking my friends to come and celebrate me. I must have opened and closed the Evite half a dozen times before finally hitting send. Once the invitation was out in cyberspace I was really happy with my decision. Then, I realized I did not have much time to put together a party.
I wanted to relax and enjoy my birthday but being a food blogger there was no way I could throw a party and not feed my guests some of my latest recipes. To keep it simple I came up with a selection of quick and easy salads, including this lemon dill navy bean salad, that would serve as substantial side dishes to a balsamic glazed pork tenderloin.
The second but perhaps more important reason I went with a menu of salads was cake. I wanted to make sure I could enjoy every last morsel of the amazing cake being made by my extremely talented and generous friend, Cheryl, completely guilt-free. In addition to the colorful salads, several of my friends made their own beautiful side dishes to share. Once everything was served we were treated to a gorgeous buffet of summery foods.
It turned out that keeping the menu simple was not only key to being able to be an easy breezy hostess/guest of honor at my own birthday party, it was necessary for survival! Well… maybe things weren’t quite that dramatic.
In our region it is unusual to have more than a few days of high heat per year, so, like most homes, we live without air-conditioning. Not to mention on many years, I have spent my early June birthday indoors due to chilly rainy weather. Not this year! In the weeks leading up to my birthday the forecast crept up and up until the temperature was headed for potentially record breaking highs in the upper 90’s. I was so glad I the party menu was all healthy recipes from refreshing ingredients.
In the morning before the thermometer climbed outside, I put on some cheerful music and happily chopped veggies and whisked salad dressing inside. I love feeding people and it was a gift to do so on my birthday. To suit as many dietary needs as possible, 3 out of 4 were gluten free and all were made with vinaigrette dressings. With no cheese or creamy dressings the salads were less temperature sensitive, too. Even so, I kept everything tucked in the refrigerator as long as possible to keep cold and to let the flavors develop to their fullest.
Waiting until the last moment to put out the food unintentionally created a great ice breaker activity. Many of my friends had not met before but the conversation started flowing with ease as we all gathered in the kitchen plating pickles, arranging cheese and crackers, and putting the salads into their serving dishes. There is nothing better than food to turn strangers into lifelong friends.
Of the four simple salad recipes, this lemon dill navy bean salad was the easiest. I cooked beans from dry the day before the party so they were cool and ready to become a salad the morning of the party. Navy beans are mild, almost nutty, with a subtle creaminess that needs big bright flavors for balance. Bright lemon and sweet dill are assertive enough to stand out against these beans which can neutralize more mild flavors.
Sidebar: If you happen to overcook your beans and they turn into paste, skip the vegetables, add a generous squeeze (about 1 tbsp) of Gourmet Garden chunky garlic to the dressing, stir it all together, and call this a navy bean pâté. It sounds super fancy and no one needs to know you set out to make a salad.
You can skip the cooking all together by using canned beans, simply rinse and shake dry before placing them in you bowl. Of course, using Gourmet Garden dill makes this recipe a snap. I love grabbing a tube of herbs, squeezing out just the right amount for my recipe, then moving on to the next step. It takes seconds to give any recipe a huge bump of flavor. Also, the Gourmet Garden herbs stay perfectly fresh in my refrigerator for weeks, which you can appreciate if you have ever bought a bunch of herbs and not gotten around to using them for a few days only to find pond scum in the back of the refrigerator – bleck!
Keeping Gourmet Garden herbs on hand means there are always fresh herbs ready to use, something that makes this busy cook very happy on her birthday and everyday.
- 5 cups navy beans, rinsed
- 1 ½ cups diced celery
- ¼ cup chopped red onions
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp Gourmet Garden dill stir-in paste
- 1 tsp salt
- In a large salad bowl, combine the beans, celery, and onions. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, dill, and salt.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and stir gently to combine.
- Refrigerate the finished salad for 4 hours up to overnight.
More recipes from the party!
Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco from Damn Delicious