Summer Fest: Beans, Beans

By: Michelle Buffardi

We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart, the more you eat, the more  you . . . Improve your cholesterol. What'd you think I was going to say? Seriously, studies have shown that beans lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Plus they're high in fiber and fill you up so you crave less bad-for-you foods.

So why do these little heart-helpers often get a bad rap? (At least at picnics anyway.) It seems that one guest always ruins the party by bringing a lame 3-bean salad, so tangy you're not sure if it's intentional or spoiled. I've even suspected some of my family members of bringing canned 3-bean salad. So gross. Don't let this happen to you. Here are 7 spectacular bean salads that will, along with the Garden Bean Salad pictured above, not only save your next picnic, but beans' reputation as well.

Smitten Kitchen's Mixed Bean Salad, inspired by Mario Batali's NYC gastropub, The Spotted Pig:

Bal Arenson's Coconut Bean Salad, which, I might add, can be made in seconds:

Potato-Green Bean Salad With Lemon and Basil from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (note the inventive use of potatoes in the pesto instead of oil):

Warm Green Bean Salad With Tomatoes from My Gourmet Connection:

So there you go. The more you eat, the better you feel, so eat your beans at every meal.

More Greens, Beans and Herbs with Friends and Family:

Don't forget to join the conversation on twitter, and check out our thoughts on zukes and cukes and corn.

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