Lemony Broccoli Rabe with White Beans

Bright, bitter and creamy, this recipe for Lemony Broccoli Rabe with White Beans works equally well as a side dish alongside a roasted chicken or as a standalone vegetarian main.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup water, or more if needed
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
  • Extra crushed red pepper, for serving


1 Prepare the broccoli rabe: Cut any thick stems (with leaves still attached) in half lengthwise. Then cut all the stems into 4-inch pieces.

Rapini with White Beans and Lemon

2 Blanch the broccoli rabe: Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for 1 minute, turning them in the water occasionally so they cook evenly.

Drain and rinse with very cold water until the broccoli is no longer warm. Pat dry with paper towels.

Rapini with White Beans and Lemon

2 Cook the lemon slices: In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the lemon slices, overlapping if necessary, and cook without disturbing for 2 minutes. Turn and cook the other sides for 2 minutes more. The slices should be browned in spots. Transfer to a clean plate.

Broccoli Rabe with White Beans and Lemon

3 Warm the white beans: In the same skillet over medium heat (no need to clean), heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic, white beans, red pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 minute more.

Rapini with White Beans and Lemon warm the beans

4 Add the broccoli rabe to the pan and cook: Add the broccoli rabe and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until it is tender when the stems are pierced with the tip of a knife. During cooking, add more water if the pan seems dry. Stir in the lemon slices and turn them in the mixture until the slices are just heated through.

Broccoli Rabe with White Beans and Lemon cook the broccoli

Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Serve with lemon and red pepper.

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  • pete mack

    This is a nice base recipe for Italian style greens with white beans. I added onion and bacon, replaced the greens with kale and wilted radicchio (which is what we had available) and served it over cheesy polenta. Very popular. Really like using braised lemon in this.


  • D

    Tastes great with anchovies! :)


  • Sassy

    I make something similar using the abundance of kale and Swiss chard that hubby grows…and understand why your friend would say it’s a comfort food, it’s one of mine too lol. Never thought to try broccoli Rabe with it, but I sure will now. Thanks so much.

  • Vanessa

    Made this tonight for dinner. I have never cooked lemon slices before and was pleasantly surprised at how it intensified the lemon. I will use these cooked lemons in a recipe calling for preserved lemons if I didn’t have them on hand because WOW the lemony tartness really popped by cooking them! I also only needed a few shakes of red pepper flakes, the amount called for would have been a bit much for me. Nice side, but was a great meal by itself tonight.


  • Maureen

    I live in Australia now and cannot find broccoli rabe (which is my favourite vegetable). However when I do come back for a visit I will be sure to try this with my family. Sounds amazing. I usually just sauté garlic and cook with the broccoli rabe!

  • Rosalind Shearer

    Looks delicious! I love any dish with lemons :)

  • Richard Benchimol

    Thanks for the idea. I think I am going to try it with chick peas, I will let you know how it goes.