16 Salads Without Lettuce Worthy of Your Next Meal
Let's face it: lettuce is super lame and only really exists to be a vehicle for delicious, delicious dressings. But just because leaves are boring doesn't mean salads have to be. Summer's fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables mean you can easily put something together that's still super satisfying. And we're not talking about salads of the pasta, tuna, or chicken variety.
Whether packing for weekly work lunches, potluck parties, or picnics, these salads leverage the season's best ingredients for hearty, healthy meals that are far from rabbit food. There's no lettuce required here -- or mayo, for that matter.
Mayonnaise-loaded coleslaws can be tricky for picnicking because they spoil easily. But this red cabbage and carrot slaw leverages lemon and mint for a fresher variation that travels easily and tastes lighter. Recipe here!
- Red cabbage
This salad is perfect for a crowd. It's packed with summery corn, zucchini, and chickpeas, and then topped with a savory sun-dried tomato vinaigrette and herbs. It's practically a meal on its own. Get the recipe here.
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Maple syrup
Breaded-and-fried goat cheese is the star of this dish, so it's not exactly the healthiest salad, but colorful beets, avocado, and fiber-rich pistachios ensure that this summer meal is still pretty damn nutritious. Get the recipe here.
- Goat cheese
This is a great recipe to keep on hand, and can be made in a pinch with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Canned beans are livened up with a vibrant dressing and cilantro. Pair this with practically any protein, from meat to fish.
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Cannellini beans
- Bell peppers
- Chili powder
The sweet-and-savory combination of tomatoes, cucumber, and cantaloupe makes for a seriously refreshing -- and hydrating -- summer picnic salad. Read on here.
- Red onion
Crispy pita chips are tossed in a lemony vinaigrette with fennel, radish, cucumber, apple, and radicchio then doused in sumac for a crispy, crunchy summer salad. Serve alongside kebabs from the grill. Recipe here.
- Watermelon radish
Here is another iteration of summer picnic fare that primarily looks to pantry staples for a dynamic, protein-packed side. Layered with fresh basil, sun-dried tomato pesto, and Parmesan, chickpeas have never been more impressive. Recipe here.
- Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Pine nuts
The main ingredients -- cucumber, basil, and watermelon -- are tossed together, then elevated with mango, peanuts, fresh herbs, and a gingery citrus-soy dressing to deepen the flavor. Try the recipe here.
- Serrano pepper
Tomatoes, onion, lemon, parsley, and mint are tossed with reliable bulgur wheat, and the mix is perfect for picnicking or serving alongside roast chicken.
Panzanella grows better and bolder in taste over time, as toasted bread -- or even day-old bread -- sits and soaks up all the moisture from the fresh veggies and Dijon vinaigrette. Make this salad in the morning and let the flavors meld together all day. Get the recipe here.
- French bread
- Bell pepper
- Dijon mustard
- Champagne vinaigrette
Green and crisp veggies and herbs are served here with avocado and a unique radish vinaigrette for a savory standalone salad. Learn the recipe here.
- Sugar snap peas
- Ricotta salata
This cucumber salad has so much dill and vinegar, it's almost like eating a pickle salad. Serve it alongside rich meats that can stand up to its bold flavor like pulled pork or fried chicken. Recipe here.
- Red wine vinegar
- White balsamic vinegar
- Cider vinegar
Because this "salad" includes a bed of vermicelli rice noodles, it's perfectly reasonable to eat it as a main meal and expect to feel full. It also makes for excellent lunch leftovers. Find the recipe here!
- Fish sauce
- Snap peas
- Vermicelli noodles
- Cherry tomatoes
A vinegar-based dressing holds this crunchy and healthy coleslaw together nicely, and again, is much more picnic-friendly since there's no mayo. Recipe here.
- Marcona almonds
- Champagne vinegar
- Caraway seed
This lump-crab salad can stand on its own as a main course at lunchtime, as it also includes protein-packed hard-boiled eggs for texture. Finish the whole thing off with lemon, herbs, salt, and pepper (crab really needs nothing more than that). Serve with fresh avocado slices and your favorite crackers. Recipe here.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Jumbo lump crab
- Cherry tomatoes
If you're not eating zoodles yet, we're not sure what you're doing. Spiralized veggies are the perfect way to only slightly convince yourself that you're eating real noodles. But they're definitely healthy! Paired with quinoa and peanut dressing, this salad is a hearty vegetarian lunch, but you can also add grilled chicken on top if you're feelin' it. Recipe here.
- Red bell pepper
- Red quinoa
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