provençal white bean salad

provençal white bean salad |

There was a knock at the door.

It was my Dad.

Now that school is out for the year, he oftens stops by in the late afternoon to help out with the kids (woo hoo!) or to bring me lunch.

But this particular time he came bearing a gift…

As I opened the door, I was presented with the most gorgeous surprise!

provençal white bean salad | theclevercarrot.comOpal basil.

Also known as dark purple basil, it’s a unique variety of its leafy green predecessor. Opal basil tastes just like regular basil, perhaps slightly stronger and can be used in all kinds of recipes. The aroma is fantastic. I contemplated pesto, but thought it might look a little noir (what do you think?).

Anyway, back in March we visited a local garden center. It was a fancy place with an array of tantalizing fruit trees, tropical flowers, and a small cafe with coffee and baked goods. It’s like Disney World, the botanical edition. 

While pottering around, I dreamt of an herb garden. I managed to restrain myself and bought only opal basil, Genovese Basil, Greek basil and oregano. My Dad was kind enough to plant the seeds for me.

My new opal basil inspired this Provençal salad.

It reminds me of the flavors I experienced almost 10 years ago, while visiting the south of France. The food is incredible, there are wonderful markets to explore, and the light… the golden light truly is straight out of an impressionist painting! It’s as magical as ‘they say.’

And so, this recipe begins with a quick marinade.

provençal white bean salad |

I diced up a large shallot and soaked the purple colored flecks in tangy red wine vinegar, olive oil, and woodsy dried oregano. Marinating shallots lessens the raw onion-y bite (dragon breath, anyone?) and can easily be done with raw red onion as well. It’s like a quick pickle. I also threw in a generous handful of oregano sprigs. The marriage of fresh and dried oregano works well together.

Then, it was outside and onto the grill with a few zucchini.

Oh, yes people. It’s zucchini season!

provençal white bean salad |

Zucchini is mostly water, which is great for grilling. They’ll shrink up and char nicely, and actually taste like zucchini.

Once finished, I tossed them into my dressing/marinade while still warm to soak up the aromatic flavors. Then I threw in some cannellini beans for a creamy, delicate texture.

My Provençal salad was ready to eat!

provençal white bean salad | theclevercarrot.comprovençal white bean salad |

If you’re looking for a simple side dish to bring to a BBQ, or something different to pack for work, try this recipe. It’s easy, healthy, and can be made in advance (see notes below). It’s also a great way to use up your summer zucchini too.

Do you have an herb garden? What are you growing this season? Thank you to my CSA for these gorgeous veggies!

{PS- My dad grew all of the herbs used in my cookbook. ♥}

Kitchen Notes:

  • To get ahead, make this salad up to 3 hours in advance. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. You could even grill the zucchini a day or two ahead of time, if you’d like.
  • If you can’t find opal basil, substitute with regular basil instead. It’s totally fine.
  • This recipe is naturally gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Provencal White Bean Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 2-3 medium zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
Bean Salad
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano, optional
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans or 1x (14 oz) can, rinsed & drained
  • large handful of basil leaves, green & purple
  1. Preheat your grill to high.
  2. For the zucchini, trim away the ends and slice into planks, about 1-inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. To prepare the salad, add the shallots, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, and fresh oregano sprigs to a large bowl. Mix well to combine. Let the mixture sit out at room temperature to marinate while you grill the zucchini. It will lessen the raw onion flavor in the shallots.
  4. Grill the zucchini until lightly charred, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, dice into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other. Cut across into thin 'ribbons.'
  6. Add the zucchini, beans and basil to the to the bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss well. Give it a taste, and add more vinegar or seasoning to balance the flavors.
  7. Serve right away or chill up to there hours before eating.



  1. Patti says

    I am going to a barbecue this weekend, and this salad is what I’m bringing. Your blog always intices me to try new things and your presentation is inspiring. Thanks Emilie!

    • Emilie says

      Patti, this will be perfect for a BBQ. You can even grill the zucchini a day or two in advance, if you’d like. The flavors just get better as it sits. I hope you enjoy :) xx

  2. says

    What a beautiful salad Emilie!You’ve made me very curious of how opal basil tastes,as I’ve never heard of it in the UK.I wonder if I’ll find it here :) Ohhhh and zuchinni!!!My absolute favourite!!!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Bea, opal basil is wonderful. To me, it tastes just like regular basil although some would argue that the flavor is stronger; I think it’s just fine. Plus, it’s so beautiful to look at. I’m sure you’ll be able to find opal basil in the UK, possibly at the farmers market and definitely by seed. x

  3. says

    I’ve never heard of opal basil before but it looks absolutely stunning. You’re so lucky your dad can garden! My mom and I joke that my dad has a black thumb! I’ve never seen this type of basil in a store, though, is it something you’d have to grow on you own?

    • Emilie says

      Hello Sarah! You know, I’ve never seen it in the store either. But I bet you could find it at the farmer’s market, otherwise, you’d have to grow it yourself. Apparently, it’s really easy; just sprinkle the seeds into a planter filled with soil. Do this in late spring. Then, around this time of year (I’d say mid summer), you will have beautiful opal basil leaves! x

  4. says

    What a lovely salad, Emilie! I’d love to go to France, if only via your recipe… hey, a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do! And your dad… I am melting just hearing how he cares for you. That is the sweetest thing, to bring you a bouquet of basil.. opal no less. It is so beautiful. If I see any, I’ll grab it!

    This salad is so nourishing and a delicious way to employ my CSA zucchini that is rolling in like a freight train! hehe – I am grateful. The quick pickle has me drooling (you know I love it!).

    I am growing a few pots of herbs – thai basil, chamomile, basil, cilantro, mint (confined to its own small pot) and chives. All of my favorites. In my neighbor’s garden, I’m growing parsley (in larger quantities) and some veggies! :D What a sweetheart your dad is to grow all of your herbs for your cookbook … xx

    • Emilie says

      You and me both! I’d go back to France just for the bread alone ;) PS- haha ‘freight train.’ I totally get it. x

    • Emilie says

      It’s so hot here too, Laura! if I’m not complaining about winter, I’m complaining about summer! lol. x

    • Emilie says

      Hi Felicia! you know, I’ve never seen it in stores. I’m pretty sure you can find it at farmer’s markets when in season. In a pinch, substitute with regular basil.
      In terms of growing opal basil, it likes a lot of sun and should be watered everyday. I have mine in a deep pot which is coming along nicely. Hope this helps!

  5. ruby88 says

    opal basil? Wow, sounds decadent! Your photos of this recipe are gorgeous enough for me to book a ticket to Provence! Seriously though, I love the simplicity and will definitely bring this dish to a my next BBQ, though not with a dish as beautiful as this.

    • Emilie says

      Ha! I could use a trip to the south of France myself, sounds wonderful! I do hope you like the recipe; it travels well and can easily be made in advance. Perfect for outdoor parties and get togethers. x

  6. says

    That opal basil is looking great either on a pot or on a plate, lol! What a sweet Dad! And I’m loving that marinade of yours, I can totally see how it will work with the beans. And again, who doesn’t like grilled veggies, right? I’m drooling at the thought of charred zucchini!

    • Emilie says

      Oh, yes I love grilled veggies. All of them. You know, the next time you have leftover grilled zucchini, try making soup. I just did this recently- I took my leftover grilled zucchini and pureed with chicken stock (veggie would be fine too) leftover cooked potatoes and parsley. It wasn’t the prettiest color but the flavor was fantastic. x

  7. says

    Isn’t opal basil beautiful? I have a lot of it, {like maybe too much} growing in my garden right now. I put it in everything. Everytime I’m out there admiring it I think, “I should’ve put this in my wedding bouquet”. Also I love this salad + photos, but you already know that. All the love, all the time Em, xo!!

    • Emilie says

      It is! It’s so hot out today, I need to water it like 3 times… and I’m totally with you on the wedding bouquet. I wanted rosemary and mint in mine ;)

  8. says

    Okay.. First of all, you have the coolest dad. Please tell him that he is welcome to come down and grow herbs (and occasionally show up at my door) anytime he wants. :))
    Second, this salad looks and sounds so good. So much flavor and delicious summer goodness.
    Pinned for our next BBQ party.

    • Emilie says

      He totally would. You know, we (both) are sun and sand gods. Don’t be surprised if we both show up! And yes, this salad is perfect for a bbq or get together. It’s easy to make, super casual, and you can do it all in advance. Enjoy, my island friend xoxo

  9. says

    A beautiful salad! When I catered, I often added a chiffonade of purple basil to salads and some side dishes, if just for the color. Good luck on this cookbook!!!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Mimi! Isn’t purple basil so pretty? I just love the color and it’s overall uniqueness. My plant has leaves speckled with purple and green. I guess that’s why they call it ‘opal.’ Thank you for the sweet words re: the cookbook! I’m almost done photographing :)

  10. says

    I always forget about grilling zucchini, but this salad is making me want to fire up the grill right now! I love how fresh and pretty this salad is. And the opal basil…I need to grow it next summer! So gorgeous!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Kalee! I think grilling zucchini is one of the best ways to use up your summer crop. It tastes so good! I love it drizzled with a little balsamic glaze and goat cheese… And do try growing the basil; it’s wonderful!

  11. Kara Evans says

    your blog has inspired me to start my very own blog! I have made quite a few of your recipes including your Parmesan chickpea recipe! Love!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome, Kara! Thats is so kind of you to say. I do hope you give your blog a go! So glad you like the recipes too- the parmesan chickpeas are one of our faves. Thanks for stopping by! xx

  12. says

    I planted opal basil as well this year! I LOVE it!! I’ve been using on absolutely everything. I also planted purple tomatoes, and last week I made a panzanella salad that was totally purple. Ahah!
    Love the flavor combo of this salad. Pinning it :)

  13. Daniel says

    Wow! Made this one tonight with organic cannelloni that I made in the pressure cooker. This dish is an absolute winner. Simple, yet elegant. We are new to vegetarian cooking, so nice to have such a great and flavorful recipe!

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