Finding the right side dish for your summer meals can be challenging when you’re looking to serve something lighter but just as filling as your usual starchy sides. Unhealthy potato chips and boring side salads are easy but won’t cut it all summer. Beans are light and delicious when marinated with flavorful olive oil, vinegar and herbs and served cold. They are perfect served along with summertime staples like salmon and grilled chicken.

We like to give marinated beans an extra layer of flavor by simmering them in water with whole garlic cloves and a bay leaf first. It’s a great trick if you want just a little garlic flavor instead of the intense taste and aroma of raw garlic. The marinade for the beans is made with tarragon vinegar, a white wine vinegar infused with the licorice-scented herb. You can find it in specialty grocery stores or use plain white wine vinegar.

When choosing an olive oil for your marinade, use extra virgin olive oil which has a fruity taste and a bright, peppery bite that you can taste when used raw. Dried oregano and basil add classic Italian flavors while dried tarragon adds French influence that gives the beans a traditional taste. You’ll want to make the beans  a day in advance to give them time to soak up all of the flavors in the marinade. This recipe doubles as an appetizer when served with crusty bread and an assortment of cheeses. If you want to get fancy, add some quick pickled vegetables.


Marinated Beans


  • 1 1/8 cups Randall Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves garlic
  • Salt


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup tarragon vinegar (or plain white wine vinegar)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed tarragon
  • Salt and pepper

Combine the Randall Beans with the water, olive oil, garlic, bay leaf, and some salt. Simmer gently 30 minutes. Drain and remove the bay leaf and garlic cloves. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade, place the beans in a bowl, and pour the marinade over them. They should be just covered. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Serves 6.

This recipe featuring Randall Great Northern Beans is a perfect summer side dish.