If you like chickpea “tuna,” then you need to try smashed white bean salad! It’s a flavorful, protein-packed spread for toast, sandwiches, wraps, or dipping. This version is made with an irresistable roasted garlic tahini sauce.
This light, bright, and garlicky smashed white bean salad is the perfect toast, sandwich, wrap, or salad topper for spring. It has it all: nutritious white beans, crunchy celery, a burst of lemon, the freshness of dill, and a luxurious, creamy dressing.
In short, it was love at first bite.
How did the salad come to be? It happened when I started thinking about alternatives to smashed chickpea salad, which is a go-to in my home.
Smashed chickpea salad can be flavored in many ways, but it’s often presented as chickpea “tuna” salad. In other words, it’s a commonplace, vegan spin on tuna salad, the lunchtime classic.
Chickpeas work well in this preparation. But in spite of the fact that they may be my favorite bean, they’re certainly not the only bean out there.
As it turns out, white beans are perfect for smashing and mashing. They’ve got a creamy texture that’s perfect for turning into dip. Larger white bean varieties, such as Great Northern and cannellini beans, are especially easy to smash.
Bean dip is lovely, of course. So is a big, brothy pot of whole, intact beans.
But the in-between texture is special in its own way. Smashed bean has texture, and sometimes I find it more satisfying than a pureed bean dip.
At the same time, piling whole beans onto toast or trying to put them in a sandwich or wrap is a good way to end up with beans all over your lap! Smashing the beans ensures that they’ll work as a dip or a spread.
The salad was inspired by the smothered garlicky white beans I made for my Food52 column in the fall.
I loved that recipe, but because the beans are cooked from scratch, it won’t lend itself to spontaneous preparation.
I use canned white beans for this recipe, which means that I don’t have to remember to soak them overnight before preparation. The most time-consuming part of the recipe is to roast a head of garlic, which is inactive work.
Of course you can use scratch-cooked beans in the recipe, if you choose to. But canned beans are nearly always my choice for the sake of convenience.
Here’s how the recipe comes together.
This is easy. Just cut the top of a head of garlic off, crosswise, then drizzle olive oil over the cloves. Wrap the head of garlic in foil and roast it for 35-45 minutes.
You can access the delicious, roasted garlic by squeezing the head. The garlic inside should be creamy and pop right out of the peels of the cloves.
The sauce that brings the smashed white bean salad together here has tahini, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and the roasted garlic, of course. It’s simple, yet very flavorful.
You’ll prepare it in a blender or food processor before smashing your white beans.
A fun step. Place your beans, along with some finely chopped celery and shallot, in a mixing bowl, along with about three quarters of the dressing.
I like to reserve a quarter of the dressing just in case the beans are saucy enough for my liking with three quarters of it. If I want more flavor or sauciness, I add the remaining quarter batch of sauce. If not, I reserve that sauce for easy vegan lunch bowls.
Once the ingredients are gathered in a mixing bowl, you can use the back of a large fork or a potato masher to smash them.
For me, “smashed” = partially, but not completely mashed up. I like to mash enough that some beans remain intact, while most are smashed up.
At this point, the smashed white bean salad is almost ready to serve. Before you serve it, though, be sure to taste it and adjust the seasonings—lemon, salt, pepper, sauce—to your liking.
I nearly always serve the garlic tahini smashed white bean salad on open-faced toast, tartine-style.
However, that’s far from the only use for this delicious, nutrient-dense mixture. Here are some other ideas for you:
While the smashed white bean salad is flavorful enough to hold its own, it’s also nice with toppings and garnishes. Here are some of my favorites:
“White beans” is a pretty big category of legumes. Popular white bean varieties are navy beans, Great Northern beans, cannellini beans (sometimes called white kidney beans), and baby lima beans.
I prefer a larger white bean for smashing. In the case of this smashed white bean salad, I usually reach for Great Northern or cannellini beans. But I’ve used navy beans many times, and they work well!
If you’re out of white beans but you love the flavors of the recipe, you can substitute chickpeas instead.
The garlic tahini smashed white bean salad is an excellent option for any weekly meal prep routine. It keeps well for up to four or five days in an airtight container in the fridge.
I actually prefer the flavor of this spread on the second or third day after its made, when all of the ingredients have had a chance to mingle.
Yes, you can! The smashed white bean salad can be frozen for up to six weeks. Thaw overnight in the fridge before enjoying.
The smashed beans may become a little looser when you defrost them. That’s OK! They’ll still taste great.
If you want more texture after defrosting, you can add a small scoop of cooked white beans to them and mix well. The whole beans that you add will thicken the mixture up.
This smashed white bean salad is a great example of an easy lunch dish that features beans. Here are some of my other favorites:
A quick word about roasting the garlic: if you’re really pressed for time, feel free to use 2 raw cloves or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder in place of all the roasted cloves.
I personally think that the roasted garlic is sweeter and has more depth of flavor, so the roasting time is worth it if you can make it work.
I hope you’ll give the recipe a try, because it is, I promise, special.
Here’s to flavorful lunches!
This post was created in partnership with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!