6 Lettuce-Free Salad Ideas

Sarah-Jane Bedwell, SELF magazine

Lettuce may be the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions the word "salad," but lettuce-based salads can get boring after a while. Good news: there are lots of salad options that don't contain so much as a leaf of lettuce. Below are a few of my favorite lettuce-free salads:

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Cucumber salad:
Simply slice cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and garnish with your favorite chopped fresh herbs and dressing (see below for a simple formula for making your own dressing).

Kale salad: Kale is a superfood, packed with all types of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It also makes a super salad when used in place of lettuce. Chop kale coarsely and combine with a sweeter veggie (like steamed or grilled sweet corn kernels or roasted butternut squash) to help cut the slightly bitter flavor of kale. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice will also help brighten the flavor.

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Bean salad:
Rinse and drain a can of your favorite beans and combine with diced onion, bell peppers and a vinaigrette dressing for a salad packed with both fiber and protein.

Melon salad: Fruit salad is nothing new, but to take this old standby to a new level, combine sweet melon with savory foods like prosciutto, blue cheese or roasted nuts.

Grilled veggie salad:
Take leftover grilled veggies like mushrooms, peppers, onions and eggplant, toss them in a little olive oil and sprinkle with feta cheese for a non-lettuce salad that is full of flavor.

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Broccoli salad: Combine broccoli florets, apple slices, raisins and slivered almonds with a dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and a squirt of Dijon mustard for a new way to enjoy this nutrient-rich veggie.

To make your own dressing for any salad, remember this ratio: 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Whisk together the oil with your favorite vinegar (balsamic, rice wine and red wine are all great ones to try) and a dash of salt and pepper and your favorite herbs. Add a small squirt of Dijon mustard before whisking to keep the oil and vinegar from separating if desired, and enjoy on your favorite salad -- with or without lettuce!

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