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.