22 Quick and Easy Cold Salads for People Who Hate Lettuce


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Homemade pasta salad with tomatoes, onions and broccoli
Photo credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock

Salad doesn't by definition have to include lettuce or other greens, and some folks are perfectly happy if leafy vegetables are missing links in their food chain. For them, these thrifty salad recipes will be a welcome sight, because they put the spotlight on ingredients like fruit, seafood, and hearty pasta instead. These dishes might have you turning over a new leaf, so to speak, when preparing summer meals for the lettuce-haters in your life.

Pasta salad with ham, pepper and onion
Photo credit: Wiktory/shutterstock

Tomatoes, olives, cheese, pepperoni, and salami add an Italian accent to this crowd-pleasing recipe flavored with bottled salad dressing for extra convenience. It comes together in 40 minutes and yields 16 servings. Omit the pepperoni and salami for a vegetarian version. 

Recipe: Allrecipes

Closeup of a bowl of fresh potato salad
Photo credit: cobraphotography/shutterstock

Elevate potato salad -- that most-routine side dish -- to another level with an easy twist on a classic recipe. Chopped dill pickles (a generic brand works just fine) take center stage in this simple dish. 

Recipe: Country Living

Green pea salad with creamy ranch dressing
Photo credit: LeeAnn White/shutterstock

Leave it to author and Food Network TV host Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, to mix ease with great flavor. Inexpensive and always-available frozen peas get a flavor boost from add-ins such as red onion, cheese, sour cream, and bacon. Did we mention bacon? Yes, the 12 servings will go fast. 

Recipe: The Pioneer Woman

Grated carrot salad with green garnish
Photo credit: tamata/shutterstock

Don't let the long name intimidate you -- this is a recipe where simple ingredients combine for a most elegant presentation. Author and blogger Jenn Segal says she learned it while living in France, and its decidedly European appeal will no doubt give your table the feel of an elegant bistro. 

Recipe: Once Upon a Chef

Bowl of Waldorf salad surrounded by ingredients for salad
Photo credit: Charlotte Lake/shutterstock

The classics are classic for a reason: They are enjoyed year after year. Waldorf Salad is a quirky dish with a signature taste featuring apples, grapes, and walnuts. Tradition aside, Simply Recipes founder Elise Bauer says it's okay to replace mayo with plain yogurt for a modern spin on the time-honored salad. 

Recipe: Simply Recipes

Salad with strawberry, spinach leaves and feta cheese
Photo credit: Nitr/shutterstock

This take on spinach salad from former Food Network hosts Pat and Gina Neely will please even those who don't like greens. It puts all the attention on fresh strawberries, a great buy in season. Added zest comes from a touch of goat cheese (store brand works fine) and slivered almonds. 

Recipe: Food Network

Fresh prepared vegetable skewers with tomato, pepper and zucchini
Photo credit: Romrodphoto/shutterstock

This is a recipe anyone can handle. A clever spin on the Greek classic, it puts bold flavors center stage in the simplest of preparations. Think feta, olives, cherry tomatoes, cukes, and some herbs united on a stick. 

Recipe: Delish

Classic chicken salad with grapes celery and herbs
Photo credit: Josie Grant/shutterstock

Leftover chicken, grapes, fat-free yogurt, and curry powder combine for a healthy salad from diet expert and author Frances Largeman-Roth. Walnuts are optional, and the dish easily translates to a tasty sandwich. 

Recipe: Health.com

Zucchini courgette salad with mint lemon dressing
Photo credit: SewCream/shutterstock

Don't be fooled by the premium ingredients in this recipe from Ian Knauer, author and host of the PBS cooking show "The Farm." Inexpensive and oh-so-tasty, zucchini is the heart of this dish while pine nuts and parm provide a special accent. Buy the latter two on sale -- and don't fear waste, as you'll be asked to make this often. 

Recipe: Epicurious

Bowl of tomato salad
Photo credit: Gayvoronskaya_Yana/shutterstock

The name of this recipe says it all. Fresh garden tomatoes and basil cut the cost, as does bottled salad dressing. Oh, and it takes just 10 minutes to toss this together. No one will be the wiser when it's unveiled at the next picnic. 

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

Garden rotini with broccoli and roasted tomatoes
Photo credit: Matt Antonino/shutterstock

Summertime and crabmeat are a classic combo. This recipe uses imitation crabmeat, spiral pasta, and bottled dressing -- all thrifty choices -- and gets texture and crunch from fresh broccoli and cauliflower. 

Recipe: Allrecipes

Macaroni salad with mayonnaise and vegetables
Photo credit: Stephanie Frey/shutterstock

Everyone should know how to make the basics, and macaroni salad is a summertime basic. This version gets a bit of crunch from peppers, celery, and onions. Sub in low-fat mayo to save a few calories, as you'll likely have a second helping. 

Recipe: Hellmann's

Tabbouleh salad with quinoa, salmon, tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley
Photo credit: Iryna Melnyk/shutterstock

The next time those foil pouches of salmon go on sale, grab a handful for this recipe that employs another now-in-every-kitchen ingredient: quinoa. Olives, cucumber, and peppers add zippy flavor to this dish that makes a delicious impression. 

Recipe: Chicken of the Sea

Tuna salad with beans, tomatoes and cucumber
Photo credit: nndrln/shutterstock

It's no surprise this 20-minute recipe is from Rachael Ray, master of the quick-and-delish dish. Celery, tomato, hearty chickpeas, and canned tuna -- thrifty, easy-to-find ingredients -- combine with parsley and lemon for flavorful, light midday fare. 

Recipe: Food Network

Healthy breakfast toast with avocado smash
Photo credit: SherSor/shutterstock

Avocado, mayo (or yogurt), and hard-boiled eggs, plus a few spices, are whipped together in this simple-yet-pleasing spin on everyday egg salad. Spread it on toast and you'll have your guests forgetting those pricey avocado toasts served at the trendy bistros. 

Recipe: Inspired Taste

Delicious and healthy cucumber and red onion salad with low fat sour cream dressing
Photo credit: Paula Ohreen/shutterstock

For a tangy, low-fat, and refreshing salad, stick to this basic offering that complements cucumbers with red onion, low-fat sour cream, and fresh dill. Amp up the richness, if you choose, with a bit of mayo. 

Recipe: Genius Kitchen

Southwestern pasta salad with black beans and corn
Photo credit: Fanfo/shutterstock

Blogger Amy Johnson offers up a meatless main or side that couldn't be any easier, thanks to thrifty options that include rotini pasta, canned corn, black beans, and green chiles. 

Recipe: She Wears Many Hats

Green beans with parmesan and pine nuts
Photo credit: ElenaGaak/shutterstock

Warm-weather dining is all about simplicity. This recipe uses fresh green beans and gets a simple-yet-elegant finishing touch from a classic vinaigrette. Burgers from the grill will be honored to share a plate with this salad. 

Recipe: Real Simple

Beet salad
Photo credit: Sea Wave/shutterstock

Recipes that let the main ingredient shine are often the most memorable. This one is dairy- and gluten-free -- paleo-friendly, too. Fresh boiled beets are simply adorned with lemon juice and a few basic ingredients. 

Recipe: Sprouts Farmers Market

Refreshing summer orzo salad with lemon
Photo credit: 275847/shutterstock

This recipe will transport guests to the great outdoors, its flavors hinting of travel to faraway destinations -- that is, if diners don't shovel it in too quickly. It's just simple goodness; the most "difficult" part is boiling the pasta. 

Recipe: Fork Knife Swoon

Fresh watermelon salad with mint, feta cheese and cucumber
Photo credit: julie deshaies/shutterstock

The hardest part about this recipe from Paula Deen is lugging a whole, 5-pound watermelon home from the store. From there, it's just chopping and adding onion, feta, mint, and some condiments to create a sweet-savory delight. 

Recipe: Food Network

Creamy ambrosia salad with marshmallows, pineapple and mandarin oranges
Photo credit: Ezume Images/shutterstock

This creamy, no-bake dessert salad includes 1 cup each of pineapple, sour cream, coconut, oranges, and marshmallows (hence the name). It comes together in minutes but does need time in the refrigerator for the flavors to blend. 

Recipe: Allrecipes

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