This broccoli salad recipe is a complete meal, thanks to the added white beans and rice, but can also be served as a side dish.
Very little prepping is required to make this recipe, so it can be ready in 40 minutes. Or make it the entire salad ahead and store in the refrigerator.Jump to Recipe
Want to make this recipe perfectly? Check out this Table of Contents to see which sections of this post you need most.
A shiny new farmer's market just opened up here in our town in Lake Tahoe. It's intimate - maybe 15 tents - with a very personal touch. One elderly farmer glanced dismissively at the plastic bag of baby kale I handed to him to be weighed, snorted that it wasn’t enough to weigh, and charged me $1.00.
It's a totally after-work, local community thing, with cars parked along the road, families strolling in knots with shopping bags, and kids racing ahead to hear the music.
My find, this week, was fresh cranberry beans. I cook a lot of dried legumes, and the opportunity to get them freshly harvested was a treat.
Fresh Cranberry Beans
Also known as Borlotti beans, Roman beans or speckled sugar beans, these are smooth, oval-shaped beans, lightly tinted a soft green, with gorgeous dark-red speckles. They cook up slightly creamy in texture, and have a mild flavor.
🧅 Main Ingredients + Notes
The secret to faster and easier meals often lies in the ingredients. For example, store-bought items and ingredients you make ahead and store in the refrigerator (or freezer) can turn a 60-minute recipe into a 30-minutes meal or less.
For the all of the ingredients, measurements and directions, go to the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post.
- Fresh cranberry beans - you'll see these sometimes in the summer in the produce section of the market. If you don't have them, use any canned borlotti beans, or any white bean.
- Celery - use the leaves as well as the stalks.
- Red onion
- Dried cherries or dried cranberries
- Cooked brown rice - or white rice, if that's your preference.
- Red seedless grapes - don't substitute green grapes, as they are too tart for this dish.
- Parsley - I prefer Italian or flat leaf parsley, but curly parsley works fine.
- Broccoli florets and stems - the only stems used are the parts close to the florets. The stalk can be too fibrous for this salad.
- Parmesan cheese
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Buttermilk Ranch dressing
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📝 Instructions Overview
Detailed instructions for making this broccoli salad are in the recipe card below, but here's a quick overview!
Cook the fresh cranberry beans and rice. If you're lucky enough to have fresh cranberry beans, cook, and drain the beans.
Cook the rice according the package directions. Use these tips for perfect rice!
Prep the broccoli. Thinly slice the broccoli. This salad uses raw broccoli, and is easiest to eat when the broccoli pieces are small. Broccoli is a very fibrous vegetable.
Add everything else. Combine the remaining ingredients with the broccoli and beans in a large bowl.
Toss with the dressing. Chill for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight for the very best flavor.
Serve. Serve at room temperature or chilled. If you want, add a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds on top just before serving for a little extra protein.
👩🍳 Why This Recipe Works
- This is a classic broccoli and dried cranberry recipe, made more hearty with added cooked white beans and rice. The added grains and beans helps turn a traditional side dish into a filling, healthy main dish.
- Both broccoli and beans are fabulous when paired with a tart, creamy dressing. A homemade yogurt dressing and Buttermilk Ranch dressing and regular Ranch dressing are all great with this salad. It keeps the salad from being too earthy, especially with the addition of the rice.
- Grapes bring a burst of fruit in the salad, and this contrast is part of what makes this salad work.
⏰ Tips to Simplify and Save Time
- Use canned cranberry beans, borlotti beans, or white beans of your choice.
- Use frozen cooked rice, and cook in the microwave oven. There are a few brands, and you'll find them in the frozen vegetables section of your grocery store.
💡Ideas for Possible Variations
- These cranberry beans inspired this recipe, but you can use any white bean instead. Either cook them from dried or just open a can of Navy Beans, Cannellini or other white beans.
- Other grains work great in this recipe, such as farro, barley, or quinoa.
- Other creamy dressing can work with this salad. Buttermilk dressing, IMO, is best, but Ranch dressing is fine, if that's your personal preference.
- Add toasted almonds to the salad.
- Roasted sunflower seeds can be another option in place of the pepitas.
If you like this salad, check out this herby rice salad made with lots of fresh herbs, snap peas, and crispy rice.
Broccoli Salad with White Beans
- Large mixing bowl
- 1 ½ cups fresh cranberry beans or 1 can white beans
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ⅓ cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
- 1 cup cooked brown rice or white rice
- ¾ cup halved grapes
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 4 cups thinly sliced broccoli florets and stems
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan or asiago cheese
- 1 cup Buttermilk Ranch dressing or to taste
- ¼ cup pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer and add the cranberry beans. Simmer until tender: about 20 minutes at sea level; about 50 minutes at 7000 feet. Drain and place the beans in a medium bowl.
- Cook the rice. Combine in the bowl with the beans.
- Add the celery, red onion, dried cherries, cooked rice, grapes, parsley, broccoli, and cheese.
- Add the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and refrigerate for at least one hour. Overnight is even better for the best flavor. This is a salad that only gets better over time.
- (Optional) Serve with a sprinkle of pepitas on top.