Broccolini salad is a rich, savory, and versatile salad to enjoy year-round. Whether roasted in the oven or air fryer, the lightly charred, crisp-tender broccolini pairs well with the bold flavors of blue cheese, red onion, crispy white beans, and a 3-ingredient tahini dressing. It's easy, satisfying, and totally customizable!
Broccolini salad is vegan and gluten-free with an oil-free option.
Are you a fan of broccolini? We sure are! With its thin stems and slightly sweeter flavor, it's like a more tender and mellow version of broccoli.
Is broccolini just baby broccoli?
Though sometimes called baby broccoli, broccolini is actually a hybrid of the regular broccoli most of us are familiar with and Chinese broccoli, known as gai-lan or kai-lan.
According to this Eater article, broccolini was created in 1993, and originally called "Asparation," a nod to its somewhat asparagus-like flavor. But thankfully, someone came along and suggested they call this new veggie "broccolini" instead.
All three of these vegetables, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, and broccolini, are members of the species Brassica oleracea. But of the three, broccolini has the mildest, sweetest flavor, plus tender florets and stems, and very few leaves.
And in case you're wondering about broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, it actually isn't related to broccoli at all and is in the same family as the turnip.
Why You'll Love Broccolini Salad
Broccolini may be eaten raw or cooked, but to make it more tender and interesting for salads, roasting it in the oven or air fryer is a great approach.
If you've ever eaten roasted broccoli, you know it's one of the most delicious ways to prepare it. With a slight char, broccolini also develops those same nutty, rich, incredible flavors.
And paired with salty vegan blue cheese, roasted cannellini beans, and a savory lemon-tahini dressing, this broccolini salad is exciting and flavorful enough to keep everyone coming back for more!
For this simple salad you'll need just a handful of ingredients and 30 to 40 minutes to roast (or air fry) the broccolini and prep the other salad ingredients.
- broccolini - allow 6 to 8 ounces of broccolini per person, depending on what else you plan to serve. For the salad you see in the photos, I used two bunches, 16 ounces.
- olive oil or another neutral oil, optional
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- red onion - you'll only need about half of a small onion.
- beans - I included roasted cannellini beans for the extra flavor and texture. If you don't want to bother with the extra step of roasting, just skip it. Simply toss cooked white beans with a little lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Chickpeas/garbanzos or any other variety of white bean are also good.
- chopped pecans or walnuts, optional - these add nice crunch; for a tree nut-free option, use pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
- cheese - I used Follow Your Heart's vegan bleu cheese, but homemade vegan feta (oil-free) or any other strong, creamy cheese you enjoy will taste great.
- and for the quick dressing you'll need:
- lemon juice
- agave or maple syrup
See recipe below for quantities and full instructions.
How to Make Broccolini Salad
- If including roasted white beans, prepare them first since they take longer to roast than broccolini, about 35 minutes in the oven or 12 minutes in the air fryer. Find full instructions here: roasted white beans.
- Next, prepare the broccolini. Wash and pat dry, then trim about an inch off the base of the stems (this part can sometimes be tough and woody).
- Roast the broccolini in the oven or air fryer:
- Oven: 400°F for 12 to 15 minutes
- Air fryer: 375°F for 6 to 8 minutes
- While the broccolini cooks, gather and prepare the other veggies, and whisk the dressing in a bowl.
- Finally, let the broccolini cool for a few minutes, and toss it with the onion, tomatoes, beans, and some of the cheese. Sprinkle chopped pecans and more cheese on top, and drizzle with the dressing.
Serve and enjoy!
Tip! For this salad we want vibrant, crisp-tender broccolini, not fully tender or soft. After roasting, I like to cut the broccolini into bite-size pieces to make the salad easier to eat.
For holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas, serve broccolini salad alongside our favorite vegan cornbread dressing or these fun cranberry cornbread muffins. The sweet-tart burst of cranberry tastes amazing with the rich bleu cheese and roasted broccolini!
To make the salad without added oils:
- Follow the instructions in the Notes section of the recipe to blanch the broccolini instead of roasting.
- Roast the white beans without oil or skip roasting altogether, and simply toss the beans with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Replace the store-bought vegan cheese with my oil-free vegan feta (linked in the recipe), vegan Parm, or any oil-free cheese you enjoy.
Like most salads, this one is best consumed the same day it's prepared, though leftovers will keep for several days. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Yes, broccolini is safe to eat raw but most people find it more enjoyable when lightly cooked, whether roasted, grilled, blanched, sautéed, or stir fried.
Yes, broccolini salad is a great option to prep several hours in advance, especially since broccoli is more sturdy than tender lettuce greens. Wait until just before serving to add the crispy white beans and dressing.
As written the recipe makes enough for 3 people as a side dish. To scale it for a larger group, allow about 4 to 6 ounces of broccolini per person, and adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
Though broccolini stems are more tender than broccoli, the stalks are sometimes slightly woody or tough. To make the salad easier to eat, chop the roasted broccolini into bite-size pieces.
You might like:
Roasted Broccolini Salad
- 1 cup lemon-garlic crispy white beans (tap for recipe) - or plain, canned cannellini beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 1 pound fresh broccolini - about 2 bunches
- 1 tablespoon oil - for oil-free, see Note 1
- salt and pepper, to taste
- half of a small red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅓ cup chopped raw pecans or walnuts - or seeds of choice
- ¾ to 1 cup vegan bleu cheese crumbles (I used Follow Your Heart) - for oil-free, see Note 2
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or mineral salt
- First, prepare the roasted white beans, if using. They take longer to roast than broccolini, about 35 minutes in the oven or 12 minutes in the air fryer. Alternatively, simply toss white beans with lemon juice.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) or air fryer to 375°F (175°C).
- Wash the broccolini and pat dry. Trim about an inch off the base of the stems, which is sometimes tough and woody. Also, slice any larger florets in half or thirds lengthwise.1 pound fresh broccolini
- Place broccolini in a large bowl and toss with the oil, salt, pepper. Make sure the tips of the florets are coated with oil to help prevent burning. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or in the air fryer basket. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes in the oven or 6 to 8 minutes in the air fryer. The broccolini is done when lightly charred, vibrant green, and crisp-tender. Let cool for a few minutes.1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper, to taste
- While the broccolini cooks, prep the other veggies, and whisk the dressing in a bowl.
- If desired, chop the roasted broccolini into bite-size pieces so the salad is easier to eat. Toss with the onion, tomatoes, beans, and half of the cheese. Sprinkle the pecans and remaining cheese on top, drizzle with dressing, and serve.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.