This three bean salad was inspired by the Southern Salad I had at the Stable Cafe' and the Biltmore Estate a few weeks ago. If you look at the photo, the small bit of salad is hard to find, it's hiding under the strips of smoked gouda cheese! Even though this component of the greater salad was not visible, and not very impressive looking, my husband and I thought it was probably the best part... or maybe a close second to the fried okra!
While we ate, we tried to dissect the salad and figure out exactly what made it so good... what was it that gave it such great flavor... Ultimately we decided it was just the simplicity of it. I tried recreating it, but was off in a few places. At the Biltmore, it was much creamier, but didn't have mayonaise. I think it was just a product of the beans sitting and starchy liquids coming out. Also, I couldn't find canned navy beans at Whole Foods, so I grabbed some cannelini... not the same, but close. Lastly, at the last second I added a scoop of cottage cheese to help with the creamy factor, but later decided it was unnecessary. You can make it with or without, if you want it dairy-free or if you want it to be able to sit out, omit the cottage cheese.
Three Bean Salad
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can navy beans, drained (not rinsed)
1 15 oz. can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. chives, minced
2 scallions, minced, white part only
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4-1/3 c. cottage cheese, if desired.
Add all ingredients to a bowl, gently toss and refrigerate.
This salad is best when it sits for 4+ hours.
After it sits, taste and season immediately before serving.