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Cannellini beans (Recipe: cannellini vinaigrette) {vegan, gluten-free}

White bean vinaigrette

In 1988, the City of Boston, Massachusetts, unveiled Scheme Z, a series of bridges designed to cross the Charles River as part of a major highway relocation through the center of the city.

Whoever decided to call the bridge Scheme Z -- scheme anything -- was no marketing genius. Scheme Z became the rallying point for every community group that opposed the construction project. Nobody liked the implication that somehow the government was scheming to push through this design.

Today, the beautiful and architecturally distinctive Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, carrying the new roadway across the river, defines the Boston skyline.

What's in a name?

White bean doesn't really get me going.

Cannellini bean sounds exotic, interesting, and... well, romantic.

The mild-flavored cannellini, shaped like a kidney bean, is native to Mexico, and cultivated in three of the most romantic countries on Earth: Greece, Italy and France.

Cannellini beans are my all-purpose white bean. I use them interchangeably with Great Northern or navy beans, or flageolets. In dishes that depend on the texture of the ingredients, I start with dry beans, and cook for 15 hours in the slow cooker (if I had a pressure cooker, I could soak the beans overnight, and then cook them in under an hour), but if I'm making a dish in which the beans will be smashed -- a dip, or soup, or salad, or bruschetta -- I prefer canned beans. 


If you're starting with canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse them (to "refresh" them and remove any excess salt), though some recipes call for a bit of the reserved liquid to be added as a thickener. Canned beans are fully cooked, so should be added to most dishes close to the end of the cooking time.

Cannellini vinaigrette

Adapted from Perfect Tapas, this salad would be perfect for a picnic, too. It comes together in five minutes, and no cooking required. Serves 4-6.


15-oz can cannellini beans
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 gherkin pickle, finely chopped
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pinch of sugar substitute, agave nectar or sugar, to taste
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Snipped fresh chives, for garnish


Drain and rinse the beans under cold water. Drain again, and add to a mixing bowl with the celery and pickle. In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, parsley and sugar substitute. Shake well to emulsify the dressing, and pour it over the beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer to a serving dish. Serve at room temperature or cover and chill before serving. At the last moment, garnish with snipped chives.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

No-cook summer antipasto
Pasta e fagiole
White chili
Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup
Bailout bean soup

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I always keep a can of canelli beans in my pantry. Love the addition of the gherkin pickle - yes!

I must stock up some cans of this cannelli beans in my cabinets as they can very handy.

This is so annoying, in my country we sometimes miss quality products, the beans from the can is not so great so we have to buy it from the market and prepare it ourselves, of course we don't always have the time for that so we don't do some of this recipes... we surely miss out on things.

My pantry would be empty without white/cannellini beans, I don't care what you call them, they have to be in my pantry.
This looks like a grand summer picnic salad.

This is great! And I too have a few cans on cannellini beans in the cupboard. Another good snacking dish for me :)

I'm the other way, white bean I understand, Cannellini bean I'm not very sure about, sounds strange.

I just went and looked in the pantry, no canned beans. Dried beans yes, there is a drawer of them and we use them.

Oh my! I haven't eaten white bean for a while now. You make me miss it the more just going through this. I will have to prepare it after work today thanks.

LOL you are right, sometimes the name can be more interesting than the actual product. Great use of cannellini beans :)

I love cannellini beans, although I can never remember how to spell it! ;)

being one from marketing i say the name is everything! i myself am more likely to buy cannellini beans than white beans - then i make a hummus out of them!

I love cannellini & sausage soup. YUM.

Yay a vegetarian Recipe!!! This looks Delish and it is EASY!!! Beans are so good for you! The economy is awful and Beans are CHEAP people!!! Thank you so much for this recipe. I use beans all the time. I love recipes like this!!!

Hubby is a Carnivore, so I do cook meat! So... I"m just sayin' hahahah
Love you!!!

Excellent -- I was just thinking about next week's eating and realizing I have some cannellini beans in the freezer that I cooked about a month ago, but was trying to decide what to do with them -- I'm going to thaw them out and make this next week! Your timing is impeccable. :-)

I love cannellini beans, especially in salads! I usually buy them canned but one of these days I'm going to get dry ones to try.

I stock both canned and dried cannellini beans. Oddly I usually use the canned beans for quick soups. The dried beans are usually what I will cook soups that I want to have a lot of body and salads and it never fails that I somehow always end up with about 1 cup left over. I have an infestation of pantry gnomes so when I am not looking they will either add or subtract stuff just to frustrate me. So this recipe will come in real handy

I love cannellinis and this is a wonderfully bright and delicious salad to use them in.

I also really like to marinate them in lemon and mint. So tasty.

Toni, that one little gherkin made a huge difference. It really added a bit of tart balance to the dish.

Big Boys Oven, you won't be sorry to have these on hand. So many ways to use them!

Monica, we're really lucky to have good quality canned beans in the markets here.

MyKitchen, we had this at room temperature and it was really delicious. It will be on my summer picnic and potluck menus, too.

Julia, very healthy snacking food!

Ntsc, I think "cannellini" sounds, I don't know, more flavorful than "white bean" -- but whatever you call them, they are the most creamy and delicious of all the beans.

Akwe, canned beans are so quick to prepare -- perfect for worknight dinners.

Ben, in this case I think the beans are as interesting as their name, don't you? I love cannellini beans.

Bridget, two of everything -- that's how I remember.

Meeta, cannellini bean hummus sounds delicious. Lots of garlic, maybe some herbs....

Chiot's Run, that does sound great. Beans and sausage were meant to be together.

Leslie, I have many vegetarian recipes here (you can find them in the recipe index), and vegan recipes, too. And meat -- something for you, something for your husband!

Genie, I've been cooking pots of beans in my slow cooker, and freezing them. It's wonderful to pull them out of the freezer and they're ready for soup or bean spreads.

Maris, the canned beans are really good quality, for the most part, so they are a good substitute for fresh and take no time at all to prepare. That's why I always have some in the pantry.

Kim, I think I have some of your gnomes! This is the kind of recipe that's adaptable to however many beans you find on hand.

Melissa, beans with lemon and mint, some salt and black pepper, a bit of fruity extra virgin olive oil... what could be better?

It's true, the name makes all the difference.
It drives me crazy though when some people won't eat certain things unless I trick them by calling it something else...

Cannellini beans are so versatile and have such a mild, delicate flavor. I always keep a couple cans on hand---so useful for whipping up a quick dip when unexpected guests drop by!

I was just looking for some to put into tuna salad -- but I didn't get to them -- the supermkt's shelves of canned beans were just too well-stocked! So for now, it's black beans and garbanzos, white beans next time.

Lydia, I'm having another bowl of Fassoulada today...a hearty greek bean soup...love'em!

What a great intro Lydia! You're right, it's all in a name. I'm using white, er, cannellini beans in lasagne tonight.

This sounds like another great use for cannellini beans, Lydia! Like you, we're great fans of beans in all forms. One way I like to use cannellini beans is in a simple, but delicious side dish, Tuscan beans, with rosemary and garlic.

I've bookmarked this. I am always on the lookout for good beany side dishes!

Oh that sounds good and very different.

I love the sound of this! Can't wait to try it.


Brilynn, now I'd love to know what some of those "trick" names are! Maybe if someone came up with a new name for cauliflower, I'd be able to eat it.

Sandie, cannellini bean dips with fresh herbs from my garden are one of the mainstays of the summer table.

Mae, years ago when I wrote an article about the owner of a local grocery store, he made cannellini beans and Italian tuna for me. It was my first time eating the two together, and I was delighted at how delicious it is. I've been making that dish ever since.

Peter, your fassoulada looks delicious. I must try it.

Ari, whatever you call them, white beans in lasagne sounds divine.

Terry, I remember way back when, watching The Frugal Gourmet make cannellini beans like that, in a flask. I've been wanting to do it but never have.

Pam, me too. Can never have enough good bean dishes in the repertoire.

Noble Pig, and it's sooooo easy.

Paz, hope you do try. This is such a lovely and light dish.

I am looking for canned beans without added salt. The only one so far I have found is made by Eden Organics. They are great, but a little expensive. Does anyone else know of salt-free canned beans?

Oh my gosh. I just made this salad. It is absolutely amazing and exactly what I was looking for. Vegetarian, Light, Fresh, and used that can of beans I had! I used distilled white vinegar since I didn't have any white wine vinegar, but it was still excellent. For herbs I just used what was growing outside, basil and chives. Thanks a bunch!

Rita, thank you so much for coming back to leave a comment and let me know you made the recipe. It's a perfect one for summer, and I'm thrilled that you like it. I love to toss in fresh herbs from my garden, too.

As a bachelor, I like to make the simple hot meal of cannellini with pasta (usual sea shells). I fry up some garlic (slight golden) in a little olive oil, then add the beans and a 3/4 can of water. Progresso seems to have the best canned beans. Boil that up for about 20 minutes (until you have nice gravy textured liquid) then mix with the shells that are cooked separately. Top with parmasian cheese to make it scrumpous. Be warned, you can very easily over-eat on this tasty meal.

this is great. it goes perfectly with tuna steak with rosemary, parsley and lemon zest.

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