When the sun is shining and the fall air is crisp and cooling, all I want to do is stay outside the house and definitely outside the kitchen. That’s when salads become the perfect choice for lunch and dinner. If the idea of eating salads makes you start yawning, wake up! Salads don’t have to be boring and they don’t have to be just light bowls of lettuce. Don’t even get me started on bottled salad dressings either.
Salads can be exciting – filled with color, texture, and taste. Ingredients can be as simple or as exotic as you want and the salad can be light or a hearty, filling meal. There doesn’t even have to be any lettuce at all! So if your usual salads have you falling asleep, read on to find out how to make your salads exciting, satisfying, and delicious.
1. Lettuce Alone
Or you can choose not to use lettuce and opt for other types of greens such as endive, spinach, watercress, arugula, kale, cabbage, chard, or dandelion greens. There are so many choices – check out Your Ultimate Guide to Leafy Greens to learn about them all. Try combining two or three types of greens or other veggies for a mix of tastes and textures. You’ll love this Wild Spinach and Asparagus Salad and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad.
2. Fruit Rollouts
Refresh yourself with this Watermelon Salad with Fried Tofu and Basil-Lime Dressing, this Peach and Fennel Salad, and this Satsuma Orange Chickpea Salad. Of course, your whole salad can be made with fruit like this Orange Mint Jalapeno Salad.
4. Oodles of Noodles
Go even lighter and use spiralized veggie noodles. See how to Lighten Up Summer Meals with These 15 Vegan Spiralized Noodle Dishes. You’ll love this Carrot and Celeriac Noodle Salad, Zucchini Ramen Noodle Salad, Spicy Tomato Tahini Spiralized Salad, and this Garlic, Zucchini, and Beet Noodle Salad. You can even make noodles out of fruit like in this Spicy Raw Mango Salad.
5. Meaty Salads
This Watermelon Salad with Fried Tofu and Lime-Basil Dressing will feel really indulgent as will this Summery Tofu Salad with Fresh Herbs and Sesame Dressing and this Tofu Tomato Salad. If you prefer tempeh, this Marinated Tempeh Salad is perfect for you as is this Buttery Spinach Salad with Tempeh and Crispy Shallots. Don’t forget the bacon – indulge in this Tempeh Bacon Salad With Marinated Mushrooms. For crispy toppings, top your salad with these Crispy Seitan Fingers or make this Asian Soy Curl Salad and watch them disappear!
6. Protein Boosters
Extend your love of chickpeas to your salad recipes and make this Barbecue Chickpea Ranch Salad, Chickpea Salad with Cilantro Dressing, Buffalo Chickpea Salad, and Classic BLT Salad with Creamy Ranch and Chickpea Croutons. You can also have your chickpeas in hummus or falafel form like this Kale Falafel Salad Bowl.
7. More Veggies
Mushrooms can be marinated, grilled, sauteed, or cooked any way you like. This Super Protein Kale Caesar Salad has marinated mushrooms while the mushrooms are sauteed in this Kale and Enoki Mushroom Salad. This Italian Broccoli Salad is amazing as is this Brazilian Hearts of Palm Salad. This Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad with Tarragon Dressing will add color to any table while this Warm Root Vegetable Salad is comforting and delicious. Let’s not forget cauliflower – this Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Salad will be at the top of everyone’s dinner wish list.
8. Go with the Grain
This Panzanella with Millet is a filling meal and this Quinoa Edamame Salad with Radish is also, even though it looks light. You’ll love this Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blood Orange, Mushroom and Kale Farro Salad, Herb and Rice Salad with Beet Chips, and this Brown Rice Salad with Italian Tahini Dressing.
9. Salad of the Sea
Seaweed comes in many varieties and can make colorful, flavorful salads. Try this Easy Seaweed Salad with brown seaweed, Chinese Seaweed Salad with kombu kelp seaweed, or this Seaweed Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing with all different colors of seaweed. Kelp noodles are another way to get the benefits of sea veggies in your dishes. This Kelp Noodle Sea Salad is full of fresh flavors and crunchy vegetables.
10. Say Yes to the Dress(ing)
Oil-free dressings are no problem and just as delicious. Indulge in salad dressings that are as healthy as they are delicious with this Berry Miso Dressing or this Tomato, Kalamata and Miso Dressing. Take a look at these 5 Oil-Free, Dairy-Free Salad Dressings you’ll love. For even more dressing recipes, check out You Won’t Believe These 19 Salad Dressings are Vegan.
Salads don’t have to be boring. They can be hearty, healthy, exciting, and most of all, delicious. Once you start getting creative with what you put in your salad bowl, you’ll never go back to boring salads again.
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Lead image source: Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Salad