White Bean Salad with Za’atar

by on April 12, 2011
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White Bean Salad with Za'atar
Chickpea salads are very popular in my household. My daughter E likes them so much that she often helps me throw them together, and we never use exactly the same formula twice. Over the weekend, I decided to really shake things up and, instead of chickpeas, make a bean salad from great northern beans. I had to wait until E was out of the house because she is not a fan of white beans, and true to form, she refused to even taste the salad. Oh well, more for me–and for husband D, who actually preferred it to chickpea salad.

This salad gets its distinctive flavor from za’atar, a blend of spices popular in the Middle East. The exact formula varies from country to country but usually includes thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds, which are the spices I use here. If you can’t find za’atar (or zatar or zahatar) locally, you can order it online from Penzey’s or The Spice House, but it’s very easy to make at home. Look for sumac (which is also indispensable for sprinkling on hummus) online or in Middle Eastern grocery stores.

White Bean Salad with Zahtaar

White Bean Salad with Za’atar

(printer-friendly version)

Serve this unusual salad over leafy greens, as a stuffing for pita bread, or as a dip for pitas or crackers.


  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced small (or other crunchy vegetable, see note)
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 2 16-ounce cans great northern beans, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/2 package lite silken tofu (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon tahini (optional)
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons za’tar (or 2 tsp. sumac, 1 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. sesame seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • salt to taste


  1. Place the bell pepper, celery, kohlrabi, green onions, parsley, and all but 1/2 cup of the beans into a large serving bowl.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients, including the reserved beans and juice of half a lemon, into a food processor, and blend until smooth. Add this dressing to the bowl and stir well to coat. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least an hour, but better the next day. Check seasonings and add more salt, lemon juice, and za’tar to taste. Serve sprinkled with additional parsley or za’tar.


You can use about a cup of any crunch-providing vegetable or fruit instead of the kohlrabi. Water chestnuts or jicama would provide a neutral flavor while Asian pears or apples would contribute a hint of sweetness.

Cooking time (duration): 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 6

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 215 calories, 14 calories from fat, 1.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 56.7mg sodium, 794.4mg potassium, 37.6g carbohydrates, 9.7g fiber, 2.4g sugar, 14.5g protein, 3.6 points.

Copyright © Susan Voisin 2011. All rights reserved. Please do not repost recipes or photos to other websites.

More Cooking with Za’atar:

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 janet April 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

I love how you included kohlrabi in your bean salad. I just discovered kohlrabi myself and love it raw in salads. πŸ™‚


2 Kalynskitchen April 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I love beans and love Za’atar, so this is definitely a winner for me. And thanks for the mention!


3 France @beyondthepeel April 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I’ve never heard of Za’atar, but it sounds yummy. Have you tried mashing it up to make it have a more hummus like consistency?


4 Katie April 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Looks great. I love Middle Eastern food and am going to find myself some za’atar, pronto. Thanks for the info.


5 Mary April 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

This looks so amazing!! And adorable! I must try this!!!!


6 Sara April 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I’m with E, and am horribly excited to make this recipe, but probably with chickpeas. πŸ™‚ I love your bean salads and wait with a bit of (not-secret anymore!) anticipation for you to tackle ful medammis.


7 SusanV April 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I’d love to hear how your chickpea version comes out. And as for ful medames, how about this: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/07/ful-medames-fava-bean-dip.html πŸ™‚


8 Lauren (Diary of a Vegan Girl) April 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

This looks so good! Perfect for springtime!


9 Kristi April 13, 2011 at 10:52 am

I have been looking for an excuse to stop in a little middle eastern grocery I pass by every day. I am going to pick up some Zatar and fresh pita after I pick up my daughter from school today. Should be a fun adventure for both of us!

I love bean salads and am really looking foward to making this!


10 Carole Nelms April 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

Great recipe! I am getting the spices for my vegan cooking! I am a new vegan even though I never ate much meat. I just went off the meat, cold turkey (no pun intended) πŸ™ And, am doing great! The chocolate cake on the top of your blog – does that have a recipe too? Is it dairyless??
Thank you! I am now a subscriber!


11 SusanV April 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

Congrats on going cold turkey…um, cold tofu! πŸ™‚ The chocolate cake recipe is here, http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2010/07/chocolate-blueberry-cake.html , and it’s completely dairy free and very low fat. Thanks for becoming a subscriber. Be sure to take a look through my recipe index for lots more recipes!


12 Cassie April 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

I love white beans – Northern beans are usually some of the least expensive at the store too. This salad looks delicious and perfect for spring. I’m imagining it spread on buttery crackers.


13 LittleVeganista April 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I honestly love your blog. I am really avid about new recipes and all things health related and one of the things I really appreciate is that you post the calories for each recipe.
Love that.
When you say serving, how much do you consider one serving?

Keep up the great recipes. πŸ™‚


14 SusanV April 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Thanks so much! Honestly, the servings sizes vary depending on how many servings my family manages to get out of a dish. For this one, it could be 6 large servings (about a cup each) or 8-10 small ones. It really depends on how you’re using it and how much you generally eat. We used this to fill 3 pitas (6 halves) and to top 3 salads.


15 Grace April 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Hi Susan,
I think you & your daughter should write a cooking book. I’ve made a few of your delicious recipes for my husband and I. We always end up having 2 servings. Thanks to you, it’s wonderful not having to worry about the fat content.

This one looks yummy!
Btw, what is Kohlrabi? Is it available in health food markets?

Have a great day!



16 SusanV April 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Thanks, Grace! I’ll have to tell her you said that! I have a feeling that I would end up doing all the writing in that cookbook!

Kohlrabi is a root vegetable, and you can finally find it in any supermarket with a large produce section. There’s a good photo of them here: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/kohlrabi/


17 Genie April 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I’m middle eastern, so I’ve eaten za’taar all my life; it’s the best! It tastes best with olive oil on pita bread πŸ™‚


18 Andrea @ Vegvacious April 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

My fave beans are chickpeas, but great northern beans definitely come in at a close second. I almost fell off my chair when I saw this recipe had kohlrabi! My husband loves to eat it on its own, but I had never even heard of it before I met him. I will definitely be trying out this recipe.


19 Mrsflex April 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I’ve never had kohlrabi or za’tar before so I picked up both today. I can’t wait to make this! It sounds delicious.


20 SusanV April 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to peel the kohlrabi well so that all the tough fiber is gone. I found that out the hard way!


21 Leslie Paquette April 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Thanks for the tip on the kohlrabi! I tried a bite and it tastes like a mix of mild radish and jicama with a great crunch. Also subbed cucumber for the celery since it’s what I had. Used one can cannelini beans and one can great northern. I just tested it before putting it in the fridge and it tastes delicious! I can’t wait to enjoy it for lunch tomorrow. I may sprinkle some red pepper flakes on it since I love spicy food. Great recipe, thanks!


22 Christopher Kandrat April 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Just love this dish, thanks for the recipe.


23 Nina April 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I like cooking beans on my own – thank to changing water and adding some marjoram while cooking, the beans are well tolerated by me (and well digested)


24 France @beyondthepeel April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Thanks Susan for a great posy. I love northern white beans and I love sumac even more. Funny thing is, I’ve never tried to make za’tar. Thank you for including the recipe. I will make za’tar to give it a try!


25 Rebecca May 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I am SOOOOOO in love with your blog. No lie! I’m not a vegan but I am a vegetarian and your recipes are delicious. I am a 17 year old girl who lives in a meat eating family, but I can easily make your “ridiculously easy” meals for myself. I’m always trying out some of your ideas and I’ve actually lost 30 pounds. I admire your cooking skills for sure. πŸ™‚


26 KBeane June 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I made this for dinner tonight w/apple instead of kohlrabi and it was great! I served it over lettuce, but must admit I added a bit extra tahini.


27 Shellie June 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

This sounds great. Za’atar and Sumac are two ingredients we can’t get enough of. Thanks. πŸ™‚


28 mira October 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

Delicious! I did not have kohlrabi and I forgot to add the thyme (put in the sumac). I also had to use lime instead of lemon. It is so good and satisfying. We are doing the Dean Ornish diet, so I added just a tiny bit, maybe 1/3 of a teaspoon of tahini to the whole dressing. I think my husband will eat it all tonight, I better go get one more plate. I love your blog, it is literally a life saver for us.


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