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.
Think of smashed beans as some sort of compromise between whole beans and bean dip, or hummus.
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.
Heirloom varieties might include Alubia Blanca and Ayocote Blanco 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.
It’s no secret that I love beans and eat them in as many ways as I can. They’re a wonderful means of getting plant protein, iron, and fiber on a single plate. And they’re so versatile.
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!
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I found the same as another person. It was ok after making. Got it out today a day later and I love it. I’m snacking it on crackers. Definitely make a day ahead.
Happy snacking, Karen! I’m glad it deepened in flavor for you.
I didn’t have time to do the roasted garlic, and this was still SO good! I had it on top of avocado toast. I will definitely make it again!!
Fantastic! So glad.
I don’t know why I even bothered to try this recipe. I don’t like tahini. And smashed beans? yeah, no. But the reviews were good, and it had that roasted garlic thing going for it, so I thought the worst that could happen is a wasted can of beans. (I hedged my bets and made a half recipe.)
This. Is. Awesome. OK, I still don’t like tahini. I used 1/3 c. of soaked cashews plus a Tbsp. of almond butter as a sub. But otherwise, this is a serious keeper. I hope there’s still some left for lunch tomorrow.
Yum this looks like an amazing lunch 🙂
I’m always looking for new toast ideas, and this one doesn’t disappoint! I love the combination of white beans and garlic 🙂
I saw this recipe yesterday and decided to make it right away (which NEVER happens!). I wasn’t crazy about the flavor last night but stuck it in the fridge overnight and just tried some and it is absolutely delicious! Maybe the flavors melded together overnight…? I’m also always looking for lunch ideas and this is the perfect one!
Hooray! I’m so glad. I think smashed salads like this definitely benefit from some marination time overnight — and it’s great to have that feedback. Hope you’ll enjoy it often 🙂
Gena, this looks amazing and so darn delicious. White beans are one of my favorite beans, if not my favorite and I love how creamy and delicious this looks. Eating beans on toast is one of my very favorite things to eat. Great recipe!
Oh my! Look at those heart-shaped radish slices! This spread sounds amazing!
Mmm, roasted garlic and lemon with beans, one of my favourite taste combos:) It’s hard to convince some people that roasted garlic is soooo different from raw garlic! Wouldn’t those radishes have been perfect on a Valentine’s Day salad???? So sweet:)
I’m always looking for super easy lunch ideas that myself + my husband can share for the week (’cause budget). Shockingly, he doesn’t want to eat kale salads every day. But this. This looks marvelous.
I think I’m going to try blending half or 3/4 of the beans with the dressing and making this more like a chunky white bean hummus – thoughts?!
Yum! Sounds like a good spin to me, Hannah! I’d add a few tablespoons less water (maybe 1/4 cup) to start, just to ensure that you can control how thin it gets. Enjoy 🙂
Well…I totally made full blown hummus, but it’s delicious! I blended everything except the celery (and used 1/4c water). The entire head of roasted garlic really takes it over the top. YUM
Hah, well, a hummus variation never hurt anyone! I’m so glad it was tasty 🙂
Simply love this combo and how you can use it in so many ways. I would prefer the toast though, cause I like a little crunchyness together with the softness. The radish does that pretty good as well, but MY GOD how pretty it makes the presentation!