Three Bean Salad from the Heartland

Here’s a way to include vegetables in meals. This marinated bean salad recipe is from a vintage cookbook. It is delicious; we can’t stop eating it. The idea of making this classic salad began when I opened the CSA (Community Supported Agricultural) box I’d just purchased. On the top were wax beans and green beans.Three Bean Salad - IMG_9061_1

Weekly Mystery Box

I enrolled in my employeer’s CSA program. Every Monday I pick up a box filled with fresh vegetables and produce from a local farmer. It’s a mystery basket–you don’t know what is included each week. It’s fun to figure out recipes to make with the vegetables (before they spoil). Sort of like pretending to be a contestant on a television chef cooking show like “Chopped” but without the pressure. Here’s a box from last fall.Week One CSA - 2 - IMG_6986_1

Marinated Three Bean Salad

This week’s box included fresh green beans, waxed beans and an onion. I immediately thought of the classic Three Bean Salad. This salad usually contains one can each of wax beans, green beans and red kidney beans. It also includes onions, bell pepper and everything is marinated in a sweet and sour vinegarette. Why not use the fresh beans which I will blanched to tender crispness? The fresh beans will make even more flavor and nutrition.Ingredients for Three Bean Salad

Vintage Cookbook: “Our Swiss Pantry” – from Berne, Indiana

I searched through several cookbooks to find a recipe and hit the jackpot in one vintage cookbook, “Our Swiss Pantry.” It was compiled by the women’s group of the First Mennonite Church in Berne, Indiana, to support their missionary work. This is a cookbook where the church women contributed their recipes — these complications are often the best sources for recipes because everyone turns in their favorite recipes. And these recipes are old ones, from Swiss settlers, they go back a long time.Our Swiss Pantry Cookbook - IMG_9051_1

Berne, Indiana: Mennonite and Amish Settlements

Berne, Indiana, was named after Berne, Switzerland. A group of Swiss Mennonites heard of the lush farmland of Indiana and settled there in the mid 1800’s. Their settlement thrived and now boasts one of the largest Mennonite congregations in the country in that branch of Mennonites. There are different fractions of this religious group and the Berne congregation is a progressive one adopting modern dress, transportation and ideas. They retain their protestant values, their work ethic, sincerity, honesty.

Amish from Alsace-Lorraine and Switzerland also settled in the area. They have maintained their old world methods, dress, horse and buggys and language which is a German-Swiss dialect and different from other Amish groups. These Amish retain their very closed community. Traveling back to Berne, Indiana, is like stepping back into time when you pass an Amish farm house.

How did I get a cookbook from Berne, Indiana?

The cookbook dates back to my college years when I went to school in Indiana. My roommate was from Berne, Indiana, and I’d go there on holidays and weekends. Undoubtedly, I got the cookbook on one of these visits in the early 1970’s.

I asked a friend here in Baton Rouge who grew up in Berne if she was related to the recipe author as they have the same last name, “Sprunger.” Just a distant relative, but my friend had the cookbook on her shelf, too, for all those years. She remembers when the church ladies were putting the book together! Never throw a good cookbook away!Cookbook Page - IMG_9016_1

What Is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture is a program designed to support local farmers and agriculture. It varies from community to community.  In our community, a local farmer — Luckett farms — has partnered with my employer — Baton Rouge General Medical Center — to provide the program. In the spring you pay a fee which the farmer uses to purchase seed and other supplies to raise and harvest his vegetable crop.

Then each week the farmer brings his harvest in a box to the employer where you pick it up and enjoy the foods in the box each week for eight weeks. The foods in the box vary from week to week depending on what is ready for harvest. This week we were treated to yellow and zucchini squash, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, green and wax beans, a cantalope, basil and lettuce, beets. It’s alot of food for two people, so I’m splitting my box with another employee.

The recipe has a slight twist

This recipe has a slight twist. In addition to the usual green, waxed beans and red kidney beans, it also contains garbanzo beans. Great! A little more crunch, fiber and nutrition. I added a jalapeno pepper and pimento for flavor and color. The recipe also includes onions and bell peppers. I blanched the green and wax beans in a microwave in a little water. They could also be steamed until tender crisp. The cans of red kidney beans and garbanzo beans just need to be rinsed off under running water.Three Bean Salad - IMG_9061_1

Sweet and Sour Marinade

The dressing is a sweet and sour vinaigrette. I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar which really adds to the flavor. The sugar and vinegar are boiled to dissolve the sugar. Then the salt and oil are added. These are added to the vegetables and everything is chilled. Delicious! Here are the dressing marinade ingredients.Marinade - IMG_9014_1


This makes a large recipe: 1/2 gallon. Nevertheless, we managed to eat it all!

Bean Salad adapted from Eileen Sprunger in Our Swiss Pantry, p.99

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 (16 oz) can green beans (or 8 oz fresh green beans – 2 cups snapped or cut into pieces)
  • 1 (16 oz) can wax beans (or 8 oz fresh wax beans – 2 cups snapped or cut into pieces)
  • 1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
  • 1 (16 oz) can garbanzo beans
  • 2 small white or yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup canned diced pimento pepper, drained
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Method and Steps

  1. Drain and rinse all cans of beans. Set aside. If using fresh green and wax beans, wash and drain the beans, cut off the ends and “snap” or cut into 1″ lengths. Place green beans in microwavable bowl and add 1/2 cup water. Cover loosely with wax or parchment paper. Blanch for about 6 to 8 minutes until tender crisp. Repeat with wax beans. Alternately, place both the beans in a small pot, add 1/2 cup water and bring to boil on stove. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until tender crisp. Drain the beans, add ice to chill. Set aside.
  2. In another small pot, add sugar and apple cider vinegar. Stirring frequently, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat as soon as sugar dissolves. Cool.
  3. Add oil and salt to cooled sugar/vinegar and stir to combine.
  4. Drain all beans, add green and wax beans, drained kidney beans and garbanzo beans to large bowl. Add chopped onion, diced bell pepper, minced jalapeno and drained pimento. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour dressing over beans salad and stir to combine.
  6. Cover and refrigerate.

Three Bean Salad - 1 - IMG_9069_1

Oriental Chicken Salad

One of my goals this year is to eat more vegetables. Oriental Chicken Salad is quick and easy to prepare–it makes an entire meal. Best of all it uses the bok choy cabbage growing in my garden and other vegetables for a healthy and low-fat entree. My version of “Oriental Chicken Salad” uses boneless chicken pieces which are stir fried and then added to a salad with homemade dressing. Oriental Chicken Salad with Carrot Relsih - 2 - 215 - IMG_2265_1 Continue reading

Let’s Dine-In: Homemade Breakfast Burritos

We’ve been fixing breakfast burritos long before they appeared on the menus of fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s. And over the years, the burritos have evolved from scrambled eggs in a flour tortilla elaborate creations. They make a filling brunch on a special occasion such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.Breakfast Buritto - IMG_6791

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Denise’s Banana Cream Icebox Pie with Toasted Coconut

Would you guess that Louisiana is famous for icebox pies? Probably not. However, several iconic diners across the state have a reputation for fine icebox pies. The family diner, Strawn’s Eat Shop, in Shreveport is one such spot. This restaurant is the inspiration for Denise’s Banana Cream Icebox Pie with Toasted Coconut which I am making for Mother’s Day. It is an old-fashioned and sentimental pie.Denise's Banana Cream Icebox Pie with Toasted Coconut - IMG_8884

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