In The Kitchen Recipe Collections

15 Side Salads that Go Beyond Lettuce

Stuck in a salad rut? Try one of these ideas for side salads that go beyond plain lettuce! From grains to fruit to beans, there are lots of ways to change up your salad game.

My favorite salad of all time was not a salad in the traditional sense. It was a vegetarian dish that was merely sprinkled with arugula.

The greens served as a garnish to add a peppery flavor to the rest of the meal: a quarter of a roasted acorn squash, dressed in olive oil. Toasted nuts, garlicky roasted tomatoes, and creamy chevre were the celebrated final touches.

The café where I ate that salad is gone now, but I’m still impacted by my meal there.

Salads Don't Have to Be Just Lettuce

A good salad can be made of anything—no lettuce required.

In the summer, you can build salads out of thinly sliced tomatoes, peaches, and onions dressed in freshly cracked pepper and drizzled with basil- infused olive oil.

In the cooler months, you can use the remains of last night’s roasted potatoes to dress today’s lunch of frisee and soft-boiled egg for a riff on a classic Salad Lyonnaise.

How to Build a Good Side Salad

When building a basic salad, with or without greens, anything goes. But it’s nice to include a combination of flavor and textural elements.

When prepping a side salad, I usually think, “Do I have something sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, crunchy, or creamy?”

My squash salad, for example, had sweetness from the squash, crunch from the nuts, creaminess from the cheese, and a bit of spice from the arugula. The combination of those elements made my mouth sing.

You can do the same thing at home, as long as you know a little bit about the different elements and what they have to offer.

Try These Salads That Go Beyond Lettuce!

Below are different side salads that go beyond leafy greens, and some recipes you might like to try! Any of these would work alongside a main course like roast chicken, pork chops, or seared fish.

  • Salads With Grains

  • Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad

    Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Chickpea Barley Salad with Moroccan seasonings, pistachios, dried apricots, onions, parsley, and lemon.

  • Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans

    Wild Rice Cranberry Pecan Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Wild rice salad with cranberries, pecans, green onions, orange zest, and wild rice. A perfect accompaniment to many fall and winter dishes - roast chicken, stews, pork chops.

  • Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad

    Cucumber Quinoa Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Quick easy quinoa salad with cucumbers and mint. Perfect for a summer picnic salad!

    Continue to 5 of 26 below.
  • Salads With Vegetables

  • Roasted Broccoli Salad with Feta, Barley, and Pomegranate

    Roasted Broccoli Salad
    Sally Vargas

    Roasted broccoli is the perfect base for a hearty winter salad. Toss with barley, spinach, feta, almonds, and pomegranate seeds. 30-minute cooking time.

  • Roasted Radish and Feta Salad

    How to Roast Radishes
    Sally Vargas

    Have you ever roasted radishes? Their flavor transforms in the heat of the oven, turning juicy and sweet. Toss them with a vinaigrette and some feta for a light meal or side salad.

  • Harvest Salad with Miso-Maple Roasted Butternut Squash

    Harvest Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
    Sabrina Modelle

    Harvest Salad with Miso-Maple Roasted Butternut Squash! Toss with greens, apples, cooked grains, pepitas, dried cranberries, and pomegranate arils. Best fall salad EVER. Makes a great lunch, too.

    Continue to 9 of 26 below.
  • Salads With Beans

  • Mexican Three Bean Salad

    Mexican Three Bean Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Mexican Bean salad - a three bean salad with a Southwestern twist! Pinto beans, black beans, and green beans, with onions, jalapenos, Cotija cheese, cilantro with a sweet lime dressing.

  • Black Bean Salad

    Black Bean Salad
    Elise Bauer

    A fresh black bean salad, perfect for a summer picnic or potluck. Red bell peppers, jalapeños, avocado, black beans and corn combined to give this salad its kick and fresh flavors.

  • White Bean and Tuna Salad

    White Bean Tuna Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Simple tuna and white bean salad, a classic combination and so easy to make!

    Continue to 13 of 26 below.
  • Salads With Fruit

  • Grapefruit Avocado Salad

    Grapefruit Avocado Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Grapefruit and avocado make the perfect pair in this cheerful, healthy salad! Dressed with a light citrus vinaigrette.

  • Orange and Beet Salad

    Orange and Beet Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Brighten you day with this colorful beet salad with sliced beets, navel oranges, red onions, arugula in a light vinaigrette.

  • Endive Salad with Walnuts, Pears, and Gorgonzola

    Endive Salad with Walnuts Pear Gorgonzola
    Elise Bauer

    Crisp fall salad with sliced endive, walnuts, chopped pear, and blue cheese.

    Continue to 17 of 26 below.
  • Green Salads That Go Beyond Lettuce

  • Kale Caesar Salad with Creamy Parmesan Dressing

    Elise Bauer

    Easy kale and romaine Caesar salad with a creamy Parmesan dressing without egg. Great for a potluck!

  • Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan

    Emma Christensen

    A beautiful radicchio salad with green olives, chickpeas, and Parmesan. Quick and easy to toss together. Great with chicken or fish.

  • Watercress Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

    Watercress Bacon Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Simple watercress salad with fresh peppery watercress and a hot bacon apple cider dressing.

    Continue to 21 of 26 below.
  • Last but not least: Try a new salad dressing!

  • Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

    Elise Bauer

    Making your own homemade ranch dressing is EASY! All you need is buttermilk, mayo, some spices and fresh herbs. So much better than store bought!

  • Thousand Island Dressing

    Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
    Elise Bauer

    Creamy, sweet and tangy—Thousand Island Dressing is so good made from scratch. Use it on burgers, Reubens, salads, and more.

  • Green Goddess Dressing

    Green Goddess Dressing
    Elise Bauer

    A classic salad dressing made with parsley, tarragon, chives and sour cream for a tangy finish.

    Continue to 25 of 26 below.
  • The Vinaigrette Ratio

    Donna Ruhlman

    Michael Ruhlman on how to make 3 variations of a classic vinaigrette salad dressing following a 3 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio.

  • Basil Vinaigrette

    Basil Vinaigrette
    Elise Bauer

    Have extra garden basil? Make a quick basil vinaigrette for a salad dressing or sauce for chicken, fish, potatoes, or pasta.