White Bean and Spinach Salad with Herb Pesto

Canned legumes, particularly white beans, offer versatility and convenience in culinary creations. Among their myriad uses, incorporating them into salads stands out as a superb choice. They not only enhance the salad’s texture but also contribute significant nutritional value, often elevating salads to standalone dishes. In this recipe, we pair creamy white beans with spinach and a vibrant herb “pesto” dressing.

The term “pesto” is used here with a nod to its Italian origins, although this rendition deviates from the classic recipe. Instead, it incorporates a blend of herbs, nuts, olive oil, and garlic—reminiscent of pesto’s essence. The beauty lies in its adaptability; one can experiment with various herbs and nut combinations. In this instance, we use basil, parsley, and mint, but alternatives like dill, cilantro, or oregano can be equally enticing. Additionally, the dressing features a tangy and spicy note achieved through quick-pickled red onions infused with vinegar, pickles, chili, sugar, and salt. For expedience, store-bought pickled onions and chopped pickles can serve as substitutes.

Recipe Details

Servings: 2
Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Very Easy


For the Salad

  • 200g cooked white beans
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Small piece of fresh chili pepper or 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 5 or 6 small pickles

For the “Pesto”

  • 50g roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 12-15 fresh basil leaves
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Prepare Pickled Onions: Slice the red onion thinly. Place it in a bowl with sugar, salt, apple cider vinegar, sliced chili pepper, and chopped pickles. Mix well and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  2. Make the “Pesto”: In a blender or food processor, combine roasted peanuts, basil, mint, parsley (reserving some for garnish), lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Blend until smooth, adding more olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency. If too thick, thin it out with a little cold water.
  3. Assemble the Salad: In a large bowl, combine drained white beans, baby spinach leaves, pickled onion mixture, and pesto dressing. Toss until well combined. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
  4. Serve: Garnish with reserved parsley, basil, and mint leaves.


This White Bean and Spinach Salad with Herb Pesto exemplifies the fusion of convenience and flavor. With minimal effort and a handful of ingredients, it delivers a wholesome and satisfying meal. Enjoy the creamy texture of white beans juxtaposed with the crisp freshness of spinach, all harmonized by the vibrant herbaceous notes of the pesto dressing. Whether as a light lunch or a hearty side dish, this salad promises a delightful culinary experience.

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