Spicy Bean Salad

Spicy Bean Salad with Honey Lime Dressing #vegetarian @mjskitchen

Now this is what I call a salad! We love salads and some of our favorite salads have beans as a primary ingredient.  This Spicy Bean Salad was made with chipotle seasoned bolita beans; however, pinto beans or black beans could also be used.   Click this link for the Spicy Bolita Beans recipe.

(If you aren’t familiar with bolita beans, visit my post on The Bolita Bean – A Locally Grown Favorite.)

 Spicy Bean Salad


Spicy Bean Salad Recipe
30 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Looking for an easy salad for a weekday meal that offers the flavor and goodness of a cooked meal?  This is it. Almost every food group is represented so it's full of lots of nutrients and will fill you up just like bowl of soup.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

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Course: Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian
Yields: 2 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
Salad Ingredients
  • 4 to 6 large leaves lettuce or mixed greens, shredded
  • 1 - 1 ½ cup Spicy Bolita or Pinto Beans* (with a little of the bean sauce)
  • 1 to tomato, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • ½ cup sweet onion, minced
  • 8 large pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  • ½ cup feta or cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Sea salt
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  1. Divide the shredded lettuce between two plates.
  2. Top each plate with half of each of the remaining ingredients. You can arrange the ingredients any way you want – lined up side-by-side , in small individual piles around the plates, or piled high.  Be sure to include some of the bean liquid when you plate the beans.
  3. Drizzle a little dressing over each salad. This salad really doesn’t need much dressing because of the bean sauce, so go light.
  4. Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt, if desired. (With the feta and olives it's already plenty salty, but you could put a touch on the avocado.)
Other ingredient suggestions that will add a little crunch:
  1. Crispy tortillas strips
For vegan - eliminate the feta
Kitchen Notes

Dried vs. canned beans – I usually cook a pot of dried beans about once a week and then use them for a couple of meals during the week.  However, if you don’t have time or want to cook up a pot of beans, you can still make this salad using canned beans. If you use canned beans, here is how you can prepare for this salad.

  1. Saute the garlic, onion and cumin in 1 Tbsp. oil on medium-low for 4 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cans of pinto beans (3 to 4 cups). (Do not drain)
  3. Add oregano, red chile powder and 2 to 3 chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.


Type of bean - This salad is so versatile that you can really use just about any bean you want. We've made it with bolita, pinto, black beans and navy beans.


Salad Ingredient - Don't hesitate to use or replace the ingredients listed here.  A composed salad like this really comes down to what you have in the refrigerator.


 The Bolita Bean

Bolita Beans (similar to the Pinto)

From my recent posts, you know that we love beans.  A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the black bean and then one with a potpourri of black bean recipes.  Today I’m going to talk about the bolita bean, similar to a pinto bean but a little sweeter and easier on the digestive system. Several years ago a friend turned me on to bolita beans and now I cook them as much as I cook pintos.

If you’re not familiar with the bolita bean, it is a small pinkish bean similar in shape and size to the pinto (as you can see in the pictures).  It’s grown locally here in New Mexico that makes me happy since I do try to buy local as much as I can. The stories say that Spanish settlers introduced the bolita when they settled into northern New Mexico.  It is currently grown throughout the Four Corners area and other parts of the southwest.  Apparently, it is a good crop for this area because its root system is deep making it able to withstand dry spells and drier climates like ours.

To learn more about the bolita bean, to get a recipe for Spicy Bolita Beans and to get links to several recipes that use bolita beans, click over to this post – The Bolita Bean, A Locally Grown Favorite.





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59 Responses to “Spicy Bean Salad”

  1. Food Frenzy Digest May 1, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Congratulations! We wanted to inform you that this post has been selected as a Featured Archive Post on our site for the month of May 2014!

  2. Pilar December 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I’m new here and I like it 😉
    This bolita beans are the same as cranberries beans?

    • mj December 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Welcome Pilar! Thanks for your comment! Actually, the bolita bean is NOT the same as cranberry beans. Click on the link to Purcell Mountain Farms and you’ll see the difference. I hope to see you here again.

  3. Laura @ Frugal Follies June 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Looks yummy! Everything I love – avocados, feta, olives… and beans to keep it cheap and healthy. Definitely making this!

    Thanks for linking up with Frugal Food Thursday The new linky is up so please come link up your latest recipes!

  4. Alyssa April 14, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    This salad looks really good, I love all the different ingredients in it! Thanks for sharing at Showcase Your Talent Thursday and I hope to see you next week!

  5. fati's recipes March 16, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    Mmmm!! Love this! Creative, delicious, healthy… makes me wonder why I don’t give myself some that extra chance to create something healthy rather than binge on what’s in front of me…..

  6. Michi March 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Just the picture of this salad made my mouth water! I can’t wait to get creative, thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

  7. Chung-Ah @ Damn Delicious March 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Gorgeous looking salad! I love how it’s packed with TONS of goodies.

  8. Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry March 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    This is what I call a salad as well! Wow-looks so tasty and nutritious! Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  9. Miz Helen March 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Hi MJ,
    This is an awesome salad that I would just love. This is a great meal for me. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  10. German Mama March 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    What a great looking salad. I love all the ingredients and colors!

  11. mj March 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Thanks for all your wonderful comments. Obviously you all are like me and love our beans! 🙂 Just to let you know that I added a link to the post to Purcell Mountain Farms. The link takes you to a page that lists A LOT of beans and links to info on the beans. I’ve found many beans that I didn’t know anything about.

  12. Tina (PinayInTexas) March 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    I love everything on that plate, MJ!
    Thanks for introducing me to Bolita beans. I’ll be looking for it next time.

  13. Rathai March 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I love beans and the other flavours going into this salad. A comforting, healthy and beautifully presented salad.

  14. Tes March 7, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Your salad looks really fresh and hearty 🙂 I love the simplicity of the recipe but somehow it sounds really full of flavour 🙂

  15. Viviane Bauquet Farre March 7, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    Looks great, MJ! I love how you’ve arranged the flavors in beautiful lines – its like a latino flavor rainbow! Bolitas are a wonderful bean and this recipe makes me wish I had some on hand…!

  16. Christy March 7, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Interesting and yummy looking too 🙂 I am intrigued by the types of beans you used, but it doesn’t really matter as I love most of the beans anyway 😉

  17. Magic of Spice March 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I love bolita beans 🙂 This is just delightful and a perfect way to serve up some leftover beans…delicious!

  18. Healthy Cooking Blog March 6, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    This salad is very very nicely arranged.

  19. vianney March 6, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    what a beautiful plate. I have heard of the bollita bean, but have not tried them. I need to change this quickly and try this wonderful salad.

  20. Lisa March 6, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    This looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday and I hope you’ll stop back soon 🙂

  21. Anne@FromMySweetHeart March 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    MJ…you are right. Now THIS is a SALAD!!! I love how you arranged it….it makes for a really pretty plate. Thanks for bringing me up to speed on the bolita bean. I’ve not heard of it before and wonder if it is readily available in the D.C. area. I will definitely keep my eye out! Your pictures are as wonderful as always! : )

  22. Reiko March 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    This is what I call a GREAT salad! Looks so fresh and delicious!

  23. Monica @ TheYummyLife March 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m with you….that’s what I call a salad. It’s beautiful! I’m not familiar with “bolita” beans. Maybe that’s what we call pink beans? Learned something new!

    • mj March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Never heard of pink beans! 🙂 I looked them up and Purcell Mountains Farms has a great page of lots and lots of beans. Apparently, the bolita and pink beans are different. Who knew. Now I need to find pink beans!

  24. Javelin Warrior March 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    I am a HUGE bean fan so this salad really appeals to me. And I always cook my own beans – it’s so easy in a slow-cooker, just set and forget for 3-4 hours. I’ve never paired beans directly with olives, but I love the idea and will have to try this… Thanks for sharing with Made with Love Mondays!

  25. Cucina49 March 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    That salad looks amazing–a serious vegetarian entree that will satisfy. Perfect for meatless Monday!

  26. kitchenriffs March 5, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Really great post. Love the combo of ingredients in the salad. I’m a bean fanatic myself – I’ve got pounds of beans and dals in my pantry at the moment. Great info about Bolitas – alas, they’re not typically found in supermarkets (at least not in mine) but they’re worth seeking out. Nice, nice post – thanks.

  27. Jen at The Three Little Piglets March 5, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I’ve never heard of a bolita bean before – definitely have to see if I can find them because I always love trying new things! Looks like a delicious start to the week!

  28. Sanjeeta kk March 5, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    Oh..that platter look so lively..power packed with energetic foods! And love the simple dressing of honey and lemon.

  29. Shannon | Just As Delish March 5, 2012 at 3:56 am #

    I’ve never had beans salad, and your salad looks good, will try it next time. Never heard of bolito or pinto beans, this is new to me.

  30. peachkins March 5, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    I love salad too and this one is a must-try!

  31. Nami | Just One Cookbook March 5, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    I love your salad which is neatly lining up on the plate. 🙂 I enjoy beans but we don’t have many kinds of beans in Japan. I’m learning different kinds (and names) from you!

  32. Dee at Deelicious Sweets March 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    I too love beans. They make for an excellent filler in lots of recipes. I haven’t tried these but I’m going to be on the lookout for them on my next trip to the market. They sound fabulous and I have a belly full of pizza. That says a lot if I’m still thinking about eating these. That salad looks awesome too. Thanks for the inspiration. I will be making up something similar this week as I have most of the ingredients on hand.

  33. Soni March 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    I love the pretty and colorful look of this salad!!And its spicy and so flavorful.A winner in all respects MJ!!Bookmarked 🙂

  34. Jane March 4, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    I love beans, but have never heard of bolita beans! Pintos are one of my favorites, so I will have to look for the bolitas! Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

  35. easyfoodsmith March 4, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    A very healthy, delicious and satisfying salad.

  36. Deeps @ Naughty Curry March 4, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    very informative post, the salad is totally my kind… love beans 🙂

  37. Reem | Simply Reem March 3, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    This bean salad is making me so so hungry!!!!

  38. Michelle @ Simplify, Live, Love March 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    I have never heard of this bean either. I’ll have to keep my eyes open at the Amish bulk food store I love. The salad looks so tasty! We love beans around here, too. I still have a lot to learn about them, though.

  39. Ann March 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    That looks delicious and thank you for the introduction to a new ingredient!

  40. Food Jaunts March 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    How long will the cooked beans last in the fridge or do you have to freeze them? I really need to start cooking my own beans, but our freezer space is at a premium and I find myself resorting to cans.

    • mj March 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      Because i don’t use any meat products, they’ll keep for 5 to 6 days before having to freeze the leftovers (if any). This batch of beans I made on Sunday and then Bobby finish it off in a burrito on Friday night. He’s still living to tell the tell. 🙂

  41. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles March 3, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    MJ – love this! One of my very favourite meals… everything about this salad is appealing; the textures; variety; flavour; gorgeous natural properties. I like the idea of cooking up a batch of beans on the weekend to have for the week. I love that I can cook them al dente and particularly notice a difference on the level of sodium compared with canned. You dressing sounds perfect too! Simple and delicious. Great meal idea MJ.

  42. Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen March 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I want this for lunch today! I love to cook beans from scratch and they are great in salads. The pimento stuffed green olives and feta put this over the top for me!

  43. Judy@Savoring Today March 3, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    MJ, this makes me long for summer when salads top the menu for us. This flavor combo looks wonderful!

  44. Cajunville March 3, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Beans are a mainstay in our diet. This salad looks fresh and inviting, can’t wait to try it.

  45. MaryAnne March 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    The beans and the salad look lovely. I’m a huge bean fan but have never heard of bolitas. I have a feeling it’ll be unlikely that I find them here in Shanghai. I’ll try the salad anyways, in spite of our dearth of correct beans and of avocado, feta and pimiento-olives! One thing I’ve been doing recently to make up for our lack of feta is to make a big batch of very-drained paneer and then brining it in a container in the fridge. It’s a softer, creamier version of feta, certainly not as sharp (alas- need rennet to let it age and get sharper) but it’s beautiful. Also lovely smeared on the inside of a hot tortilla when making tacos- gives that sour cream/dairy creaminess. Numnumnum!

    (I don’t know how to embed here but this is the one I made earlier this week–http://www.wokwithmebaby.com/2012/03/01/soft-cheese-hard-wok-experimenting-with-fromage/)

    • mj March 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      I checked out your paneer post. What a great post and what an ingenious way of making it! You certainly are resourceful! 🙂

  46. Suzi March 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Hi MJ. I love beans and this salad is perfect. I eat beans almost everyday but I haven’t seen the bolita bean at least not that I know of. I like that it is sweeter than the pinto although I love those. I will be on the look out for these. Have a wonderful weekend.

  47. Nads March 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Never heard of the bolita bean, but as we drive through the Four Corners area in a couple of weeks, I’ll look for them and pick up a bag or two if I find them. I love to add beans to salads. This sounds ultra siimple and good. Most of my kitchen is packed up now and I’ve stopped buying groceries but I’ll give it a shot soon.

    • mj March 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      If you can’t find any, let me know and I’ll bring you some next time we come to Houston. 🙂 Have a safe drive Darlin!

  48. Ramona March 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Beautiful, healthy and satisfying. I think every component makes me happy. 🙂 Have a great weekend. 🙂


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