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Turtle Bean Salad

Turtle Bean Salad 

Turtle bean salad is delicious and versatile. It’s an ideal appetizer or snack served with chips, and it is equally good as a side or main for lunch or dinner. All photos by Nathalie Krull

This black bean salad is a refreshing blend of bright colorful flavors, like corn, tomatoes, and cilantro, all tossed together in zesty lime juice and spices. I love to make this salad when the weather gets a little warmer. It’s perfect to bring to potlucks, parties, and great to use for healthy quick, and easy meals. It’s ideal for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time…In fact you should, because it gets better and better the longer it sits in the fridge. All the flavors mingle, and come together in a perfect little dance in your mouth, that seems to happen only after they spend time together in the same bowl tucked away for a while. 

This stuff is good with everything! Serve it over a fresh bed of lettuce for a quick lunch, or dinner. Or it is great to serve as an appetizer for a party, used as a dip with some crispy tortilla chips. It also can bump up your taco game real quick. This is one of those recipes that you can tweak how you like, and it will always be good. I add cumin and a little bit of chili powder. You can always include diced fresh jalapeno or some cayenne pepper to add some heat. Sometimes I add some fresh garlic, sometimes I don’t…It always seems to hit the spot no matter which way I do it. Avocados are a great addition, but I personally like to serve the avocado on top of individual servings. That way the avocado stays fresh and doesn’t get mushy when mixing it up.

A little about the ingredients…

The name turtle bean is said to either come from its compact, oval shape, or its tougher-than-the-average skin, or shell. In the US, turtle beans and black beans are the same thing, but while all turtle beans are black beans, but not all black beans are turtle beans. Got it?

Black beans are relatively low calorie, and are packed with protein, and fiber. They contain many nutrients including calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Be sure to drain and rinse your black beans if you are using them from a can. Better yet, use dried black beans that you have soaked and cooked ahead of time.

Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, especially the ripest peppers, which are the red ones. Red peppers pack the most nutrition because they have been on the vine longest. Rich in antioxidants, including many vitamins, peppers  also have much needed fiber.

Cilantro… there are many potential benefits to cilantro, Improved heart health, decreased anxiety, lower blood sugar levels, and protection against oxidative stress, to name a few. Adding cilantro to your diet is a good move.


  1. 2 15.5 oz cans of black beans (or cook them up fresh)
  2. 1 can of organic sweet corn—It’s pretty important to try and get organic corn. It’s one of the most contaminated crops that is grown.
  3. ½ cup chopped red onion
  4. 1 cup chopped bell pepper – any color you like
  5. 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes—you can cut them in half, or chop the pieces smaller like I do (one of my kids doesn’t like bigger pieces of tomato)
  6. ½ cup minced cilantro
  7. Juice of three limes
  8. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10.  ½ teaspoon cumin
  11.  ½ teaspoon chili powder
  12.  2-4 cloves of crushed garlic- optional
  13. 1 diced jalapeno or dash of cayenne pepper- optional
Simple, fresh ingredients are the secret to this easy, summer salad.


Rinse and drain all of your canned ingredients. Chop all of your vegetables, add everything to one big bowl. Add your lime juice, olive oil, salt, and spices. Mix it all up, cover it, and place it in the fridge for all of the flavors to come together. You can eat it whenever you like, but I find it to be best on the second day. It can last for up to four days in the fridge. 

Make it on the weekend, and take it for lunch nearly all week long. Having healthy, easy food on hand is always a great idea, and keeps you reaching for the good stuff. Little efforts make eating healthy easy. Share it with friends… I bet you’ll be a big hit at the next potluck! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. Wishing you good health, and good luck on all of your cooking adventures.

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