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Salads without the greens

  • c

I struggle with salads, I really do. In restaurants I am OK with Chinese Chicken Salad, or a really good Caesar, or a well done Cobb, but that is about it. A typical lettuce, tomato cucumber salad just leaves me cold. And, I suspect lettuce isn't an especially high nutrient food anyway, as well as being a vehicle for high fat dressings. I would, however, like to make some main course salads that are not based on lettuce, or at least where lettuce is not the main ingredient, and am looking for suggestions.

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  1. This doesn't quite fit the bill as a main course salad, but what about pear tomatoes and avocado, with olive oil, cumin, cilantro? One of our favorite sides.

    Also, have you tried frisee aux lardons? By the time you have the hot bacon dressing and poached egg on top, you barely notice that you are eating a form of greens.

    1. Look up "Fried Eggs Over Warm Lentil Salad with Lardons" at Epicurious. Delicious, and do get French green lentils to make it with they are wonderful. This is pure comfort food. I make this often and I had it at a restaurant in Montreal made with smoked pork hock that was delicious too.

      1. Rice, noodle or bean based salads come to mind.

        Tuscan Bread salad.

        You can do chopped salads with all sorts of veggies and no lettuce.

        1. Try a greek-inspired combination. I made one for my NON-foodie parents a week ago and they raved:

          Grilled eggplant (if you have the ambition)
          kalamata olives
          fresh oregano
          red peppers
          .just a dash of olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice.

          1. Spinach salads, arugula salads, kale salads, bean salads, whole grain salads (like Farro or Kasha), pasta salads, jicama salads, tomatoe salads, carrot salads (especially carrot/pineapple/jicama/peanut)...

            gosh the varieties are pretty much endless...

            1. I love wild rice salads. Just made one last night, in fact. It's a great way to use up all those little small bits of leftover food that otherwise go to waste. For example, last night I added a bunch of parsley leaves, dried cranberries, a bit of walnuts, a small piece of blue cheese, pears that were starting to bruise, and salt & pepper. It was fantastic.

              2 Replies
              1. re: nja

                If you love wild rice salads (which I do as well), there's a great recipe in that cookbook called "Cucina Fresca" which calls for toasted pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, red wine vinegar (I think) and probably some parsley. Oh and also olives I think. It's great, although it sounds like you improvise yours which is great too.

                1. re: Ann Vuletich

                  Oh yeah, pine nuts are great for these. Thanks for mentioning olive oil and vinegar, I forgot to mention those in my "recipe," but they are absolutely vital.

              2. In addition to a proper Greek salad of cukes, tomatoes, olives & feta, the below is an excellent no-lettuce salad. Great for a main course with some crusty bread. May seem strange at first glance but try it. It's a big recipe but you can halve or quarter very easily.

                Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                1. Quinoa (cooked in chicken stock), roasted corn, cucumbers, balsamic, little olive oil, salt and pepper. You could add shredded chicken or pork to this. Roasted red peppers. You could pretty much add anything you wanted to this.

                  Quinoa makes a great salad.

                  Tabbouleh is another salad you could play with and make into a main course.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: krissywats

                    A cautionary tale about tabbouleh -- the salad that keeps on growing. I made a recipe that claimed it was "6-8 servings" using 1 C bulgar, 3 C. chopped parsley. That became almost 20 good-sized servings! We had it for supper and / or lunch for a week, and finally tossed it after the 8th day.

                  2. Here are two:

                    Insalata Caprese:
                    Slices of heirloom tomato
                    Fresh basil
                    Buffalo mozzarella
                    Highest quality extra virgin olive oil
                    Fresh cracked black pepper

                    Antipasti with Italian meats/cheeses/etc...:

                    Parmigiano Reggiano

                    Assorted olives
                    Roasted red peppers

                    Quality EVO
                    Balsamic vinegar

                    1. roasted beets with orange segments, toasted walnuts and blue cheese....with a handful of arrugula, escarole or spinach if you do want greens, olive oil and champagne vinegar

                      fresh mozzarella, celery ( destringed and cut about 1/4" on the bias), toasted walnuts, parsley , lemon zest, dash of lemon juice and great olive oil

                      a bay area deli ( the pasta shop) makes an interesting salad of chicken and polenta squares...my home approximation is leftover chopped chicken, celery, a bit of red onion, olive oil and light vinegar, with cubes of cooked and cooled polenta... filling, good for parties, and a for good meatless version I would substitute roasted mushrooms a/or crumbled goat cheese.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: agrodolce

                        thanks! 'for actually offering' a greenless salad 's'. i copied it an cant wait to try the 'bay area deli' salad. please send me more 'or where to go for more'. we used to luv spinach and mushrooms...but dr.s orders, no more greens! as a matter of fact, anything that grows on the ground-dirt. got anything?

                        thanks, ron

                      2. Also, it sounds like it's just lettuce that you're trying to avoid. There are great greens for salads that are not lettuce. Baby spinach, arugula, watercress, and mache are some that make great salads.

                        1. I make a wonderful mushroom salad with cumin and sweet pepper. I cut mushrooms into quarters, along with julienned strips of yellow pepper. Then whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 T. parsley, 1/4 t. cumin and salt and pepper. You can make it slightly in advance of dinner, but don't keep it for more than a couple of hours.

                          1. When tomatoes are in season, I always make a modified panzanella, depending on what other ingredients I have around. Hell, when tomatoes are in season, I just drizzle slices with a little garlic olive oil and good balsamic and eat them like that, forget about them actually making it into a salad.

                            1. Actually, most lettuces are quite high in nutrients (with the exception of iceberg).

                              Anyway, my favorite non-lettuce salad consists of black beans, corn, and tomatoes. This is best in the summer, of course, but I've been known to make it even in the dead of winter. I make a dressing of lime juice, cumin, cayenne, fresh garlic, olive oil, chopped cilantro, and green onions. Mix and toss with beans, chopped tomatoes, and corn. Sometimes I'll add red onion if I want an extra oniony flavor, or if I don't have the green onions. I like the salad just like this, but you could also top it with some grilled chicken or beef.

                              I also love the Epicurious version (linked below) with grilled shrimp--it's much more of a main-dish salad that way. The dressing is different, but the jalapeno (I've always used green) makes it divine. (I would use green or red leaf lettuce rather than the iceberg, but you could omit the greens altogether if you wanted.)

                              I love poached egg on top of any salad. I "invented" a sort of "Salad benedict" where I used nice green, (a mix of lettuce and baby spinach, but you could use spring greens, etc.), fresh summer tomatoes, lightly steamed asparagus, and a poached egg over top. I made a sort of modified hollandaise dressing (thinner and with some vinegar) and poured over the top. You could add some Canadian bacon or crisped prosciutto, too.

                              My favorite tea house in Paris made a delicious brunch salad. Start with half a baked potato, soaked in butter, in the center of the plate. Cover with greens (your choice, a spring mix, baby spinach, or mache would all work). Layer four generous pieces of smoked salmon over this. They topped it with dollop of very soft white cheese, sprinkled with herbs. I can't remember what the cheese is called, and I've never been able to find it in the states, but it was somewhere between sour cream and cream cheese in texture. Over all of this they poured a "Sauce of Four Lemons," which I've also never been able to recreate. I use a strong (homemade) lemon dressing.

                              Sorry for the length--enjoy!

                              Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                              1. A French version of a Cobb Salad aka Salade Nicoise. I've subbed grilled chicken, or even sliced beef tri tip in place of tuna.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: letsindulge

                                  I love tuna Nicoise (as an 18 yo) happens to be the first time I ate fresh tuna. Loved it and multiple other items once i was informed about them properly prepared.

                                  1. bean based salads : white bean salad with red onions, three bean salad, black bean and corn salad, black eye pea salads, green pea salads

                                    pasta based salads: cold asian style salads, orzo salad with feta, red tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, sun dried tomatos

                                    (even though i personally despise this salad, it always shows up at easter dinner: broccoli salad made with mayo, & bacon. disgusting to me, but everyone else seems to like it)

                                    chopped roast vegetable salad (can be served over quinoa)

                                    shirazi salads based on persian cucumbers, tomatoes, (sometimes onions, sometimes oil), lime juice and salt and pepper
                                    salads based on choped green, orange, and yellow bell peppers.

                                    seaweed salads

                                    mushroom salads

                                    papapya salads(thai)
                                    persimmon salad

                                    quinoa salads
                                    couscous-based salads

                                    kale salads

                                    salads made witn edamame, dried cranberries, blanced slivered almonds and a little kale

                                    mango salads (thai)

                                    bruschetta can be viewed as a form of salad

                                    almost all slaws don't rely on lettuce.
                                    there is a delicious japanese radish slaw.

                                    eggplant salads (israelis serve about 20 different types of eggplant salad they also serve a celery salad that seems to be made with a different variety of celery than ours.

                                    are just a few that come to mind.

                                    1. The fennel, mushroom and parmesan salad by Alice Waters is the stuff dreams are made of.

                                      1. so many great lists and suggestions already, so i'll just throw out a few of my non-lettuce-based salads...

                                        -very thinly sliced fennel, spinach leaves, roasted green beans and thinly sliced sweet onions, tomatoes and/or sundried tomatoes, seared ahi or blackened shrimp with balsamic

                                        -spinach, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, feta or goat cheese, kalamata olives, roasted figs, lightly candied walnuts and a vinaigrette

                                        -cooked barley, farro, or bulgur mixed with diced chopped artichoke hearts, chopped roasted red peppers, sliced pimento olives, a handful of julienned sundried tomatoes, diced fresh mozzarella, some onion powder and a lemon white wine vinaigrette... i will generally serve it to OH with some roasted seasoned spaghetti squash or crispy sweet potato "chips."

                                        -artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, roasted (chilled) cauliflower, caramelized (chilled) onions, tomatoes, cooked (chilled) grean beans, salt pepper and some white balsamic or pear vinegar. add protein if you need more substance...

                                        1. Jicama or apples cut into matchsticks make a good backbone to a salad. So do cold blanched green beans or asparagras.

                                          1. Try Ina Garten's Greek salad recipe - very tasty and I'm sure you could add other veg/leave out cheese, etc. to taste
                                            I think it would be nice with quinoa mixed in. Just go light on the dressing or make it with less oil (might not emulsify)

                                            1. green beans roasted with garlic. shredded/grated green apple and celery root. toasted pecans. blue cheese. dressing of walnut oil with lots of mustard and pecan vinegar. could add roasted chicken or salmon.

                                              1. Count me in! I'm always more interested in the add ins on a salad. The lettuce really is just the "holder"

                                                1. Hard root vegetables are good for a change of pace. Julienne carrot and daikon radish some onion makes a good salad. Ye old Waldorf salad -- grated carrot and soaked raisins. I cut up raw string beans sometimes. Goes good with carrots. Most of the time it is just olive oil, salt, black pepper, vinegar dressing.

                                                  Buy some Chinese black vinegar for a change of pace. Chinkiang Black Vinegar is well known

                                                  Chinese cabbage with bean sprouts dressed with sesame oil is good for a change