Tender White Beans with Broccoli & Red Pepper Flakes

More sunlight in the evenings. Shoots of green grass springing up along with the beginnings of daffodils making an appearance. Only a tinge of snow on the hillside. The spring we crave may finally be here. In New England, the search for and cultivation of color has arrived.


To celebrate, my husband and I took a drive south yesterday, to Boston’s North End, for a change of scenery and for a relaxed day together. It was a mini-vacation—for a few hours we transported ourselves away from work and chores. We cultivated light and color between us by talking about anything other than work and the household—books, movies, fantasies of future travel—the kind of conversations that come easily when away from distractions. We shopped, ate a wonderful meal, and found gorgeous spring colors around us.

This dish of Tender White Beans with Broccoli and Red Pepper Flakes is in part inspired by the kinds of foods we like to eat at our favorite North End trattoria. Delicate white beans are infused with fresh garlic and olive oil. While the beans are almost creamy to the bite, roasted broccoli adds both smoky flavors and crunch to the dish. Topped with micro-greens or fresh herbs such as oregano, this colorful dish is perfect for a meal on its own. All you need is a loaf of Italian bread, some fruity olive oil, and a bottle of Chianti to complete the meal.

Enjoy the season.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


©White Beans Take A Closeup by Dena T Bray.jpg

Tender White Beans with Broccoli & Red Pepper Flakes

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings


  • 4 cups cooked white beans (fresh or canned)*
  • 1 head broccoli, rinsed and cut into florets
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 scallions, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • Handful pea shoots or microgreens
  • Sea Salt


  1. To prepare the beans: If using fresh beans, soak overnight covered in cold water. Place the soaked beans and soaking water in a large soup pot. Add a bit of sea salt. Bring the water to a boil, then lower to a simmer and simmer until tender, about one to two hours depending on the freshness of the beans. You can also cook the beans in an Instant Pot according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once cooked, the beans should be drained. If using canned beans, rinse lightly with cool water.
  2. To roast the broccoli: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and put the broccoli florets on the pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place in the oven and roast until tender and browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  3. Place the cooked beans in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a bit of sea salt. Toss to combine.
  4. Assemble the dish by placing the beans in a large serving bowl or platter. Top with the roasted broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and scallions. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and juice of one lemon. Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes.
  5. Serve, warm or at room temperature,  and enjoy.


  1. This recipe was inspired by a recipe written by Melissa Clark.
  2. You can view a printable version of this recipe here.
  3. If you choose to make this recipe, enjoy. And, please take a picture of your version of this dish to post on Instagram with #gatheringflavors.
Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.