Low Sodium Three Bean Salad with Barley

I’ve always loved three bean salad. The sweet and sour tang of the dressing, the appealing interplay of texture and color. Unfortunately most commercial versions are high in sodium and suffer from what I term “pickled syndrome.” Which in this case translates to flaccid ingredients bathed in a dressing sweeter than aspartame. I prefer three bean salad to soothe – rather than attack, the palate. This is a favorite recipe, with crisp green beans and the added heft of barley. A wonderful side dish or vegetarian meal, kindly given to me by a former neighbor. Many thanks, Janelle!

Serves 6.

SODIUM CONTENT: 30.5 mg per serving


1 handful of fresh green beans (about 2 c.)
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 15-oz. can no-salt-added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can no-salt-added black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced finely
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. maple syrup
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 c. uncooked pearled barley
2 1/4 c. water


Wash and trim green beans. Mix with other beans, bell pepper, and onion in a large bowl. Set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar, maple syrup and pepper in a small bowl. Add to bean mixture. Set aside.

To make the barley, measure barley and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. When done, remove from heat. Drain barley into a colander and rinse well. Add to bean mixture and stir. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Taste will strengthen and improve as ingredients are allowed to marinate.

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