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A Change from the ordinary...different salad ideas?

My family eats a lot of salads. Almost daily. However, theyre often very redundant. It will usually consist of a green (iceberg / romaine / or a baby spinach / arugula blend), some veggies (carrots, radishes, onions, sweet peppers, etc.) and some cheese (mozzarella or cheddar), along with some bacon bits and croutons. Then drenched in one of the many bottles of dressing lurking in the fridge. Occassionally, we'll toss in some craisins or some walnuts to change things up a bit.

Im looking for something different. Im not opposed to making my own dressings as long as they are quick and easy. I usually stick to a balsamic vinnaigrette or a lemon vinnaigrette. We're open to many different vegetables and greens, its just that theyre not usually on hand in our home. I dont wanna get too far off the beaten path here, lets try to keep it to a green of some sort and then some vegetables, fruits, cheeses. Quick dressing recipes are also appreciated. Just off the top of my head some ingredients that Id like to use more of are....kale, spinach, bibb lettuce, fennel, raddichio, any vegetable really, crumbly blue, feta, or goat cheese.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

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  1. Don't forget about cabbage. Try Napa, finely shredded, if the regular green and red is too strong for you. Add shredded carrots, maybe bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, scallions and a soy-rice wine vinegar-fresh ginger dressing for an Asian-style slaw. Walnuts or almonds would go here.

    Finely shredded fennel and orange sections with just oil and vinegar is also an option.

    Regular creamy coleslaw is okay, if you don't drown it in dressing. Marzetti's used to make a decent bottled coleslaw dressing, to which you could add blue cheese crumbles.

    My CSA box starts in two weeks and I'm probably going to have tons of greens for the foreseeable future! I'll be watching to see what others post here.

    Kale I find is really tough in salads, but baked kale chips are crispy and light. And you don't need anything but a little oil and salt when baking them, so it's sort of like a dry salad.

    1. Romaine, fennel, oranges or grapefruit, feta, red onion, lemon vinaigrette.

      Spinach, roasted red pepper/pimiento, goat cheese, (salami?), lemon zest, green onion, green goddess.

      Sorry, I'm having a problem linking this, but here's a green goddess and a couple other salad dressing recipes...


      1. For starters, yOu might try roasting some of the veggies. I love to roast a batch of brussels sprouts or a broccoli/cauliflower mix with some chunks of red pepper and onion in the oven (usually a half hour at 400-425 does the trick, and i mix them well with a little olive oil & salt first), and then I have 3-4 days of salad ingredients on hand. Just toss some with whatever lettuce you have on hand. Also, try mixing in a few fresh herbs. Parsley and dill are my favorites; they add a lot of flavor. Finally, i might sprinkle in a little parmesan cheese & dress the whole thing with a little homemade mustard vinaigrette.

        1 Reply
        1. re: katydid13

          I love the roasting idea. Since you say you might like to use more Gorgonzola, greens topped with gorgonzola and roast beets are amazing. The beets are fine being roasted the day before if you don't want to wait the same day.

          One of my favorite dressings is rice wine vinegar and sweet chili sauce with a splash of veg oil. I just do this with very simple salads-greens only, or greens with onions, or with onions and carrots.

          I also love avocado with orange (or grapefruit) and red onion tossed with red wine vinaigrette. Sometimes I eat that as-is, or sometimes I put it over red leaf lettuce or spinach. (Also if you toss this with quinoa it can become a meal pretty easily).

        2. Rinse some of the larger outer leaves from a head of leaf lettuce and fill them with a mixture of bamboo shoot strips, water chestnuts and bean sprouts. Toss in a few chopped cashews, roll 'em up and drizzle with a dressing made of 1/2 c. salad oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, tablespoon rice wine vinegar, pressed ginger, grated garlic, a hint of Wasabi and soy sauce.

          1. Don't forget good quality olives. I always add thin slices of onion and red peppers. What about shredded beets, garbanzo beans, sprouts, feta?

            I NEVER use bottled dressing. It's so easy to make your own dressing. First sprinkle sea salt onto the salad, then drizzle olive oil and a good quality vinegar over it (wine, balsamic, cider or rice). Toss well. When I make dressing this way I find it's imperative that the salad include either sliced onions and/or red peppers to round out the flavor. A garlic infused vinegar makes a wonderful dressing. I find the salad is better when the dressing is light, not drenched.

            Also, consider growing your own organic greens! They are sooooo much more flavorful when homegrown. You can also grow more of a variety than you could ever find in the store.

            1. Crunchy Ramen Cabbage Salad

              1 (3-oz) package of chicken flavor ramen noodles with flavor packet

              2-Tbs red wine vinegar
              2-Tbs seasoned rice vinegar (Marukan is best)
              3-Tbs granulated sugar
              1/2-tsp salt
              1/4-tsp ground black pepper
              4-Tbs cooking oil
              1-tsp toasted sesame oil
              1 ramen chicken flavor packet

              8-cups (1 head) green cabbage, shredded
              1/2-cup slivered almonds, toasted
              2-Tbs sesame seeds, toasted
              1 (3-oz) brick ramen noodles, broken into 1/4 inch pieces - uncooked


              1. In a small saucepan, heat vinegar and sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper, contents of ramen chicken flavor packet, cooking oil and sesame oil. Stir until everything is well mixed. Set aside to cool.
              2. In a large bowl, combine broken up ramen noodles and shredded cabbage. Mix well. Pour cooled dressing over the shredded cabbage mixture.
              3. Sprinkle toasted almonds and toasted sesame seeds on top of the cabbage salad.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Antilope

                Chinese Chicken Broccoli Slaw Salad

                1/4 cup red wine vinegar
                2 Tablespoons Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar
                3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
                1 teaspoon Knorr Chicken Bouillon powder (or bouillon cube)
                1/2 teaspoon salt
                1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
                3 Tablespoons salad oil
                1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
                12 oz to 16 oz Broccoli Slaw (broccoli, carrots, red cabbage)
                1 (12 oz) can White Chunk Chicken Breast, drained
                Garnish with black sesame seeds, slivered toasted almonds,
                crushed peanuts, etc.

                Place red wine vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar and
                sugar in a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup. Heat in microwave
                30-seconds. Mix the vinegars and sugar until all
                of sugar is dissolved.

                Add the chicken bouillon powder, salt and pepper
                to the warmed vinegars and mix well.

                Mix the salad oil and sesame oil together and
                stir into the vinegar mixture, to finish the
                salad dressing.

                Add the broccoli slaw to a salad bowl and toss with
                broken up chicken.

                Sprinkle with desired garnish.

                Spoon the salad dressing over individual servings.

                Serves 4 to 6

                1. re: Antilope

                  Try adding chopped scallions and fresh pineapple, cubed to the ramen cabbage salad.

                2. Before citrus fades out for the season, you might want to try this salad of grapefruit, fennel and Parmesan. I also used thinly sliced endive when I made it a couple of weeks ago, and I used jicama in place of the radishes. It was a very nice change from our usual veggie salads. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                  1. I had a salad for lunch today with some ingredients that need to be used before they were way past their prime. I never had this combination before today, and it is one that my wife would not consider eating. Let's call it 'weird salad for one', and it was delicious. None of the ingredients were measured. The ingredient list was...

                    Hand-torn Romaine lettuce
                    sliced black olives
                    sliced stuffed green olives
                    segments from 2 clementines
                    cubes of herbed Mediterranean medley cheddar cheese (which also contained olives)
                    1 sliced hard boiled egg
                    dressing of extra virgin olive oil & bottled lemon juice

                    I have a habit of combining ingredients of things that produce a dish that my wife would not consider eating. It's her choice to eschew my concoctions. I make my own breakfast and lunch every day because as retirees we have different times of arising in the morning. I'm up before or at 6 and cannot wait 4 hours to eat breakfast. We eat dinner together that she prepares most of the time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ChiliDude

                      When I'm fending for myself, I'll sometimes go to Whole Foods or another market that has a really good salad bar and compose what I've come to call a "crunch salad." It consists primarily of things that are crunchy -- for example, an assortment of nuts and seeds, corn nuts, radish, jicama, cucumber, green or red bell peppers, onion, shredded carrots, raw peas, celery -- and things that go well with the crunchy stuff -- chick peas, edamame, raisins or currants, etc. It's really tasty. Lettuce is usually left off and I'm likely to eat this salad with a spoon. Now that I've written it out, it's sounding really weird to me, but it really is good.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        Just reading this now and I don't think it's weird at all. I always opt our of lettuce at salad bars and as an optional sandwich topping. To me, there are a lot more interesting things out there.

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          I opt out of lettuce @ salad bars too.

                      2. Do you guys like spicy? I love to thin some red pepper jelly with vinegar and use that as a dressing. Also, if you chop up the contents of a jar of grocery store gardiniera, it really packs a punch tossed into a salad.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: katecm

                          We love spice. Tell me more about this red pepper jelly. I dont think Ive ever seen it. Also, Ive tried a couple store bought giardineras without really finding one I enjoy. Do you have a particular brand that you like?

                          Thanks for the ideas.

                          1. re: Titus0327

                            Pepper jelly is amazing. I usually find it at farmer's markets or speciality stores. Its's wonderful on brie, or used as a glaze on grilled meat. I just checked and there are a lot on Amazon. STonewall kitchens is one you see a lot.

                            I usually get my giardinera in the Italian aisle, rather than the condiments aisle. Maybe you can find one there?

                            1. re: Titus0327

                              I didn't make it, but I've eaten this giardiniera, and it's OUTSTANDING!

                              If you're taking a salad in this direction, nice to make a chef's salad/antipasto...thinly sliced Genoa, prosciuttini, provolone.

                          2. My favorite is Winter Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing. Basically it is romaine with cashews, Craisins, shredded Swiss cheese, cubes of apples and pear. Choose an apple variety that doesn't quickly brown when cut or splash the apple pieces with lemon juice.

                            I like to use leftover cooked vegetables as a salad. Typically it is thinly sliced onions, green beans and cherry tomatoes.

                            Easiest low calorie dressing = 2 T orange juice, 1 T EVO, 1 T red wine vinegar and salt.
                            Another favorite is 2 T EVO, 1 T red wine vinegar and 1 T balsamic vinegar.
                            (the above is just for one or two servings.)

                            1. Mrs. Poole's Fresh Cauliflower Salad
                              1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
                              3 tablespoons butter
                              1/2 head cauliflower, grated
                              9 to 10 cups Romaine lettuce, torn bite-size

                              1 cup mayonnaise
                              2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
                              1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
                              1 small clove garlic, mashed
                              salt & pepper to taste
                              Brown the bread crumbs in butter and cool. Mix mayo,Parmesan,lemon juice, garlic. Add s&p. Toss salad with this dressing, then distribute crumbs and cauliflower over top, don't toss, serve.

                              1. this might be too far off the beaten path: arugula, roasted green beans, raw shredded/grated green apple and celery root, blue cheese or goat cheese, toasted pecans or walnuts, dressing including a bit of almond or walnut oil with evoo and pecan or other vinegar, mustard.

                                1. My wife and I were recently in St. Augustine and had a great salad at Columbia Restaurant. It was their original 1905 salad. We have made this at home several times. Just Google 1905 salad and the recipe is on their website.

                                  1. Modified nicoise: greens of your choice, boiled sliced new potatoes, good-quality tuna, tomato, steamed haricot verts or green beans, good black olives, hardboiled eggs. Lemon vinaigrette.

                                    Similarly, cobb salad: greens, chicken or turkey, avocado, blue cheese, hardboiled egg, bacon, tomato, black olives. I like ranch with this, or a buttermilk dressing.

                                    I love good canned tuna and white beans in a salad, especially with a lemony vinaigrette. Artichoke hearts are awfully good too.

                                    Southwestern salad with black beans, red onion, monterey jack or cheddar cheese, corn, red bell pepper, hot peppers if you like 'em, a little quinoa if you have it on hand, chicken, semi-crushed up tortilla chips, and a homemade ranch with cilantro and/or chipotle peppers added in.

                                    Another favorite is the old candied-walnut, pear, blue cheese, field greens salad. It's a bit of a cliche these days, but still darn yummy. I'd put balsamic vinaigrette on this one.

                                    I often make homemade (and unorthodox) caesar dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, fish sauce (to take the place of anchovies), garlic, and parmesan cheese mixed right in. If I have that, I can eat plain romaine with a protein (usually turkey and cheese, or ham and cheese, like a julienne salad). Croutons are a nice addition but not necessary.


                                    1. Frisee with asparagus and shallot-lemon vinaigrette, fried egg on top

                                      Arugula, lemon vinaigrette, toasted walnuts & goat cheese

                                      Frisee with lardons & roqufort, dijon & shallot vinaigrette

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rjbh20

                                        Frisee is delicious, but expensive and not available in many supermarkets. However, chicory is cheap and ubiquitous. The lighter, smaller inner leaves are very, very similar to frisee, their chic cousin. Even if you don't eat the darker outer leaves, it is cheaper to buy a head and discard them than to buy the frisee, which is a smaller head.

                                      2. Do you have a mandoline (or V-slicer) or a turning slicer? Those can turn ordinary vegetables into something special, and make harder ones more edible in raw form. I love making a carrot slaw with the capellini-thin strands produced on my turning slicer. I like very thinly sliced cukes (using the mandoline) with sweet onion, simply dressed with diluted white vinegar and sugar, or else seasoned rice vinegar. Banh mi sandwiches include a carrot and daikon slaw dressed this way. I am partial to it on a variety of typical all-American sandwiches. Note that the daikon develops a strong odor as the salad container sits in the fridge, but the taste is unaffected.

                                        In an effort to economize, I no longer buy bottled dressing unless it is the store brand, and on sale. I just make use of whatever juices, brines, vinegars, and fats I have on hand. I add vinegar to the dregs of relish, mustard, and jams, adding oil and seasonings right into the jar. Shake it up, adjust to taste, and pour over your salad ingredients. I make a sort of Russian dressing using mayo, horseradish, a little sugar, and the kind of chili sauce that is red and next to the ketchup in supermarket aisles.

                                        Salads don't HAVE to include lettuce or other salad greens. But when I do use lettuce, I like to include some raisins or other dried fruit (or fresh) for sweetness, and nuts or unsweetened cold cereal for crunch.

                                        1. I'm on a kick with Greek salad lately, mainly because my husband who hates salad is actually eating it! I got the best tip here a few years back...instead of raw cucumbers and onions, marinade them (as you would a cucumber salad) for a few hours or overnight first, then drain and add to chopped lettuce and tomato, lots of kalamata, lots of feta; dress with lemon juice, good olive oil and vinegar, some granulated garlic, and finally fresh oregano and summery herbs from the garden (this is key to me, I use lemon thyme, pineapple sage, chocolate mint, that kind of thing). After it sits a bit, again I drain it of any excess liquid. It does tend to get a little soupy sometimes.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: coll

                                            You can also do that same marinating with some red wine vinegar, lemon juice and lemon zest and then toss that with the rest of the ingredients and add olive oil...I don't find that onions and cucumber give off that much water in a few hours or less.

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              Forgot to mention, I like to pour some of the Kalamata "juice" in there too.

                                              I marinade my cucs the way I normally do, which involves oil, vinegar and sugar (German style) and lots of dill and cayenne. Unless I use Persian cucs, I salt and drain them before, but it still is juicier than necessary. Especially lately, what is it raining buckets in California? I make a big batch of Greek and only use a cup or so of the marinaded cucumbers. I make a lot of salad at once, and then we eat it for a couple of days, hence the periodic draining.

                                          2. How did I forget about Caprese? I made a pretty one this weekend with nasturtiums from my deck--drizzled with lemon-infused OO, sprinkled liberally with Penzey's California seasoned pepper and salt, cinnamon and lime basils from my garden and a little parsley, too. I like to serve it as bruschetta.

                                            1. Others have suggested adding roasted vegetables. My own preference, when adding cooked vegetables, is steamed. If you have leftover cooked beans, asparagus, or brocolli, they go very nicely in a green salad. Or blanche them on purpose for adding to a salad.

                                              As to using home-made dressings rather than commercial bottled, there is no reason why you cannot make up a batch of home-made dressing and keep it in the refrigerator. We keep both balsamic and red-wine vinaigrette in our fridge always; a batch will hold for 10 days, especially if you only use dry herbs for seasoning, rather than fresh.

                                              One alternate dressing that I make occasionally is a ranch-style citrus dressing. The recipe calls for:

                                              1/2 cup mayonnaise (although I plan to try it with yoghurt next time)
                                              juice of 1 lime
                                              juice of 1 lemon
                                              about 1 tbs sugar or honey (I use Splenda, as my husband is diabetic)
                                              ground pepper
                                              cayenne pepper
                                              chopped mint
                                              Herb de Provence

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: masha

                                                That dressing sounds like it would go nicely on broccoli slaw, too. I made a citrus slaw over the weekend without mayo. Next time I'll try like this. :)

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  I serve it with a meal salad that incorporates grilled shrimp, served with lettuces, red peppers, green onions, and whatever else I decide to include. It is a variation on a recipe pulled from the Chicago Tribune a few years ago, which used orange juice and honey -- because of my husband's diabetes, I substituted lemon juice & Splenda. We prefer the tartness of the lemon, over the orange juice, anyway.

                                                  I grill the shrimp after coating with olive oil, seasoned with red pepper flakes and salt. (This is also a change from the Trib recipe, which just called for boiled shrimp. Also the Trib dressing called for tarragon, but I used mint & HdP instead.) The citrus in the dressing is a good counterbalance to the kick of the red pepper flakes.

                                                  But the dressing is good on just an ordinary green salad, too.

                                                  1. re: masha

                                                    Cool. I had some citrus slaw on a jerk burger last week and wanted to replicate. I like the mayo addition as it's similar to Nanny's (my grandmother's) cole slaw recipe. Appreciate the extra tips! Your shrimp sounds great as well--agree wholeheartedly on the contrast. NICE!

                                              2. Definitely cabbage - but white or green, *not* red (red cabbage is meh raw, much much better braised or cooked). Savoy is best in the warm months, storage cabbages in the cold months.

                                                Dried sour cherries pair beautifully with goat/sheep cheeses, including good feta (from Greece, Israel or Bulgaria; not US fetas).

                                                Croutons: always make yourself. Buy a sturdy (not very sour) white bread (I like dense Italian breads for this), dice it up, and dry out completely in a 275 degree oven (takes 15-30 mins). Let cool and bag. Don't season - croutons made this way will keep a long time if kept dry. When you are ready to use them, if you want to season them, drizzle them with some oil and seasonings and brown in a 275F oven (toaster oven is great) - just takes a few minutes.

                                                1. super simple. Purchased Broccoli Slaw & refrigerated poppy seed dressing.

                                                  Add toasted cashews, sunflower kernels, corn, tiny cheese cubes, petite peas (frozen, they will thaw) drained pineapple chunks, or anything else you can think of.

                                                  I especially like it with the cashews. I make the slaw the day before and add nuts just before serving.

                                                  1. Didn't see this one...Salada Caprese...ripe tomato slices alternating with fresh mozz...basil ...diced red onion ...black olives...balsamic vinagrette, s&p to taste...
                                                    I also enjoy a good Panzanella. Recipes abound on the 'net.

                                                    Can you tell I'm big into tomatos???

                                                    1. Try lettuce-less salads for variety, and a very different eating experience.

                                                      Your basic Greek salad is a good example - chopped cucumber, onion, tomato, olives and feta, with a wine vinegar and lemon juice vinagrette with a little garlic and oregano. Or an Italian Caprese - sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, drizzled with good olive oil. Or

                                                      - canned baby corn, green pepper and a bit of onion with a white vinegar dressing with a bit of sugar.

                                                      - thinly sliced cucumber and onion marinated with a vinegar and sugar dressing, a bit of salt and dill.

                                                      - blanched green beans, a bit of finely diced onion, and a vinagrette. Very good if made the day before.

                                                      - in season fresh, ripe tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Optionally, toss with fresh chopped herbs. I do a variation of pico de gallo as a salad - tomatoes, cilantro, finely diced oinon, lots of lime juice and salt, but leaving out most of the host pepper, so you can eat it with a spoon.

                                                      - peeled orange sections cut into bite sized pieces, celery (chinese celery is particularly good here), walnuts, thinly sliced onion. Marinate the onion in rice vinegar before tossing with the other ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and season with a bit of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

                                                      - avocado and orange salad.

                                                      - grated raw beet salad. Peel and grate a raw beet, and dress with olive oil, wine vinegar or lemon juice and/or orange juice, salt and pepper. Best if made ahead. Also good with a mix of beet and carrot.

                                                      1. Simple salad of spinach or arugala (or lettuce if you prefer), strawberries and slivered almonds with a lemony vinaigriette.

                                                        Orzo, olives, tomato, artichokes and feta

                                                        Mandarin orange edges with red onion and spinach

                                                        1. I almost always think about salad based on the flavor profile I am hungry for--Mexican, Asian, Italian, Greek, spicy, creamy, vinegary, fruity. I make homemade dressings as a rule and concoct their "recipes" based on whatever ingredients you'd use as flavorings for a dish of the corresponding genre.
                                                          I make the non-vinagrette dressings we use a lot of in pint batches. Blue cheese by the quart, yikes. That and stuff like thousand island or honey mustard keep plenty long and are so much better than the bottled versions. So yes, it's more work, but utterly worthwhile. Vinagrettes get made fresh and don't ever forget the shallot.

                                                          French green lentils are my latest salad addition obsession. I make them a side dish on their own with some small dice root veg, celery, minced shallot, parsley/herb and with a mustard-y vinagrette. A dollop of this on a salad plus whatever else you've got for veg plus bacon and a hardboiled egg and you're set. The dressing on the lentil salad is enough for the whole deal.

                                                          I also really, really love salade lyonnaise. I grow frissee in my garden specifically for it because as has been mentioned, it can be hard to find in stores.

                                                          Also, never underestimate the power of just changing up how you cut the veg or how you address the other ingredients. A chopped salad can really hit the spot even if it's a not much different set of ingredients. Grated cheese vs. cubing is aother big one. Someone on another thread suggested grating blue cheese and I became an instant fan.