One of my favorite things to do with my kids is get them excited about cooking.  Mixing, chopping, stirring, pouring, scooping, baking, and tasting.  My mother, my Nonni, and my Grandma all cooked and baked, and when they did, they loved sharing their talents with me.  I’ll never forget the time my mother had a cold, and was napping in her bedroom when I had the bright idea to bake chocolate chip cookies.  Without a recipe.  Recipes are key.  They remind us to add important ingredients, like, um SUGAR.  Whoops.  But, I will tell you that my Grandma ate that cookie up, and complemented me on my delicious baking skills. (BLESS HER HEART).



This weekend, my mom and Jake took over her kitchen for his first lesson in making her famous 3 Bean Salad.  Famous among our family, and at pretty much every picnic in the summer, that is!  When he wasn’t busy eating black olives and string beans out of the bowl, Jake offered his skills- his stirring skills!  This summer staple is an easy dish to make, and literally uses items found in pretty much every pantry.  Feel free to use any variations you choose, like cut up raw carrots, peppers, green and black olives, pepperoni, or cubed cheese.  Kids can help out by draining and rinsing canned beans, stirring everything up, and relishing in their accomplishment as head chef for the day.


Nonni’s 3 Bean Salad


1 can garbanzo beans

1 can cannellini beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can pinto, or light pink kidney beans

1 can green beans, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 can black olives, sliced thin

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 or 3 garlic cloves, smashed, and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled, and chopped into bite sized pieces

2 celery sticks, chopped into bite sized pieces

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 Tbs Italian seasoning

1 bunch chopped fresh basil (if you have it).

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water


Drain and rinse all canned beans.  Put in large mixing bowl.  Add chopped veggies, olive oil, vinegar, and remaining ingredients.  Stir, and serve!  This tastes even better the next day as the flavors have the time to really blend.  Serve cold or at room temperature.



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