My Three Go-To Salad Recipes For When You’re Sick of Lettuce

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After seeing what I post on Instagram, one would probably be shocked to hear that I eat a salad nearly every day. I’ve found that this works for me to keep balance in my diet when I’m going out to eat and ordering fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, or whatever unhealthy thing I’m craving that day. If I eat lunch out, I eat a salad for dinner, or if I eat dinner out, I eat a salad for lunch. 

You’d think I would get bored of eating so much lettuce, but I’ve found the secret is switching it up with what ingredients I use, and sometimes, not even using lettuce at all, which is how I came up with these three go-to combinations: Halloumi and Grains Salad, Summer Caprese with Burrata, and Shrimp Taco Salad.

Salad ingredients I always have on hand

Pomegranate seeds – They provide a burst of color and tart, juicy flavor that pair well with just about anything.

Garlic pepper grinder – I’ve found that this seasoning from McCormick is the secret to getting yummy garlic flavor without it tasting fake, like in garlic powder, or too strong, like with raw garlic.

Balsamic glaze – Different from balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze is thicker and the perfect drizzle of sweet acidity on top.

Pickled red onions – They are so simple to make, and they bring beautiful color and taste. I like to use this recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

Seasoned chickpeas – I use chickpeas to bulk up my salads, especially when I’m not adding any other protein. While they’re delicious plain, I fry them up in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some seasoning—Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute or Chili Lime seasoning are both fantastic, but you can experiment with any flavor you want).

And I can’t be making salads all the time without a good knife. Nakano gifted me their Japanese chef knife, and it’s now the only knife I want to use. It has a beautiful, sleek design with a wood handle and a continuation of the wood pattern on the blade. It slices through everything smoothly, even the most annoying of ingredients to chop, like raw tomatoes.

Use code KELSEY at checkout for 10% off.

Halloumi and Grains Salad

You will need:

– Halloumi

– Farro (feel free to try different grains like quinoa or cous cous)

– Olive oil

– Lemon

– Garlic pepper

– Chickpeas

– Olives

– Tomatoes

– Cucumber

– Pomegranate

I feel like most Americans aren’t familiar with halloumi, and I really wish that would change! I ate it quite often in Germany and on my travels. In Europe, it was much more affordable than it is here, which could be one reason why it’s less popular here. I buy halloumi at Trader Joe’s for $5.99 (it is $9.99 at Wegman’s)—I know it’s expensive, but if you’re a cheese lover, it’s definitely worth treating yourself to it every once in a while. Also known as “squeaky cheese” thanks to its texture, halloumi is not meant to be eaten raw, and it is meatier than other cheeses, so it holds up really well when you grill it or fry it in a pan. I cut it into about half-inch slices, brush it with olive oil, and then cook it on a greased grill pan over medium-high heat for about three minutes on each side. 

For the salad, farro’s wonderfully chewy texture makes it the perfect base. Coat about half a cup of it with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic pepper. This will act as your “dressing,” because really, I love to let the fresh juice flavor of raw fruits and veggies shine; there’s no need to coat them in excessive fat. 

Add the farro to the bottom of your salad bowl, then top with fresh tomato, cucumber, whatever kind of olives you would like—kalamata would be best but I always have black olives on hand so that’s what I used—and some seasoned chickpeas that I mentioned above. Place the grilled halloumi on top of your salad and garnish with pickled onions and pomegranate seeds.

Summer Caprese with Burrata

You will need:

– Burrata

– Prosciutto

– Peaches

– Tomatoes

– Fresh corn off the cob

– Avocado

– Olive oil

– Balsamic glaze

– Garlic pepper

– Basil

I’ll be up front and say I came up with this recipe in July when we had an abundance of ripe peaches, tomatoes, and fresh corn. It’s certainly a celebration of summer produce, but if you’re lucky enough to find these ingredients in the off-season, this salad will easily work its way into your year-round rotation. I can still buy corn on the cob in packages in the produce sections of my local grocery stores even though it is not corn season. And I personally love apples on salad because of the sweet, tartness they bring (I use Granny Smith or McIntosh), so they can be a substitute for peaches, especially in the fall.

So let’s talk burrata. It is my weakness, and I have to order it whenever I see it on a restaurant menu. But those appetizer salads are usually quite expensive, and if you can buy it from the store for half the price and make your own awesome salad with it, why not?! Again, Trader Joe’s is my go-to for good-quality, affordable cheese, so I get my burrata there. With the milky, creamy straciatella filling, you don’t really crave dressing with it, so you’re saving on calories right there! The outer “shell” of the burrata ball is solid mozzarella, so you still get some solid cheese texture, too. Because of burrata’s mild flavor, it pairs perfectly with bright, juicy produce like tomatoes and peaches. While traditional caprese usually just contains tomatoes and mozzarella, I love sprucing it up with more ingredients. And just like with the halloumi salad, I don’t want to weigh this one down with dressing, so I just drizzle it with some olive oil and balsamic glaze and crack some garlic pepper. We miraculously have a thriving basil plant, so this salad is garnished with some chopped fresh basil. And if you feel like it, add some prosciutto for some meaty saltiness.

Shrimp Taco Salad

You will need:

– Shrimp (or whichever protein you choose)

– Tomatoes

– Black beans

– Lettuce

– Mango

– Cheese (I use feta to mimic queso fresco)

– Red bell pepper

– Fresh corn off the cob

– Avocado

– Lime

– Greek yogurt

– Fresh cilantro

For me, the draw of a place like Chipotle is having a bunch of ingredients mixed together in one bowl. But the idea for this salad actually came from taco nights at home when I wanted to pile 8+ ingredients onto one tortilla—it just doesn’t work! So I started building my tacos in a bowl until it eventually just turned into a salad as I tried cutting down my carb intake. 

Shrimp is my protein of choice on taco night. I coat it with olive oil and low-sodium taco seasoning and cook it in a pan, so it comes together really quickly for an easy, healthy dinner. My salad bowl usually contains chopped lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, mangos, bell peppers, feta, corn, and avocado. I finish it off with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, chopped fresh cilantro, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, but feel free to add some salsa or one of my favorite store-bought condiments, Hellman’s cilantro lime sauce. You can eat the salad plain, with tortilla chips, or mixed all together as filling for a tortilla. And it’s a great meal to have for a crowd because everyone can customize it as they want. 

If you have any salad recipes that don’t use lettuce, or you have a favorite salad ingredient that I didn’t mention, please let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “My Three Go-To Salad Recipes For When You’re Sick of Lettuce

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