5 Crunchy Salads: Thinking Beyond Lettuce

Sometimes you just want a salad that doesn’t include lettuce — there, I said it. These 5 Crunchy Salads are bursting with flavour and nutrition, without being based on greens. They just might change how you think about what a salad is.

Thinking Outside the Salad Box

I enjoy a beautiful salad, full of greens and other add-ins, and they’re one of my favourite things to enjoy at a good restaurant. (Oh, remember going to restaurants? I hope it won’t be long before we can safely dine out again.) I’m just not all that keen on making them at home, though I do have some tricks up my sleeve for that to share sometime.

Over the years, I got into the habit of making a variety of salads (i.e., fresh vegetable dishes) for my family to enjoy with dinner. Like quick and easy bean salads, shredded carrots with a simple dressing (like this recipe from Cathy’s Gluten Free), and the like. In the last ten years or so, my take on salads has expanded to include a variety of vegetables I might not have thought about eating raw in the past, like Brussels sprouts, beets, and fennel.

A Collection of 5 Crunchy Salads

So, I challenged myself to put together a collection of non-traditional salads that don’t include the usual greens (okay, one of these recipes includes greens, but they’re definitely not the star of the show). I also decided I wouldn’t include any salads with grains or meats either. And that’s how I came up with this roundup of 5 Crunchy Salads.

These salads are good any time of the year, but are especially handy to have in your repertoire for those times when locally grown greens aren’t in supply. And I hate to say it, but also for when commercially mass-produced lettuces are subject to food recalls, as has happened far too often in recent years. (I’m not talking about the quality greens you can get from trusted local suppliers.) And of course, in this pandemic time, we can’t always find the ingredients we’re looking for at the grocery store, so it’s helpful to think outside the box.

Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels Sprouts Salad ❘ © UrbanCottageLife.com

I grew up eating Brussels sprouts (what my Flemish family called spruitjes). They were boiled. Mom put butter on them and a little bit of nutmeg, but that was it. It was a revelation to me when I discovered how good they were roasted. But never in a million years did I consider eating them raw, until I ran across a salad featuring them shredded. And who knew how pretty they could be? I present: Brussels Sprout Salad.

Southwest Shaved Cauliflower Salad

Southwest Shaved Cauliflower Salad ❘ © UrbanCottageLife.com

This salad shows what you can do when you marry a favourite vegetable and a flavour profile, in this case cauliflower and the flavours of the southwest. I got a cauliflower and some radishes this week so I can make it again. And I can’t wait! Check out Southwest Shaved Cauliflower Salad.

Ginger-Scented Celery, Fennel & Golden Beet Salad

Ginger-Suffused Celery, Golden Beet & Fennel Salad │ © Life Through the Kitchen Window.com

I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling blue, getting into the kitchen and making something always makes me feel better. Especially if that something is fresh and full of lively flavour, with lots of crunch. This Ginger-Scented Celery, Fennel & Golden Beet Salad was just the ticket the first time I made it. Why golden beets, you might be wondering … Because I wanted beet flavour without turning everything else pink. You certainly could make this with red beets too, or the pretty pink and white striped ones.

Fennel and Orange Salad

I love the delicate anise flavour of fennel. Orange and fennel is a classic combination that’s celebrated in this Fennel and Orange Salad. With red onion, parsley, and a lemony dressing, it’s a party of freshness on a plate. And by the way, if licorice isn’t your thing, don’t assume you won’t like fennel — it’s nothing like eating a piece of licorice.

Celery Salad

Celery Salad | © UrbanCottageLife.com

The inspiration for this salad was another revelation to me. Do you know the saying, Aways the bridesmaid, never the bride? Does anyone say that anymore? For me celery was always in the background of salads and in pickle dishes at meals, but never front and centre. Until this fresh and crunchy Celery Salad. Yes, there is some romaine lettuce in there, though I now use less than the photos show, In fact, I’d go ahead and make it without any lettuce at all, too. Celery, finally the bride.

Feeling Inspired to Make Non-Traditional Salads?

I hope these five recipes have you feeling inspired to look at salad in a new way. Break free of the tyranny of romaine and leaf lettuce (okay, that’s hyperbolic) and think of different adornments for your salad plate (or great big bowl).


  1. You enthused me to try fennel, and I watched a YouTube video on how to cut it and use all of wisely, I’m raring to go! But at the grocery store this morning, no fennel 🙁 maybe someday . . .

    • Keep looking … you never know when it will pop up in your store. IN the meantime, if you have a vegetable garden you could trying growing some. It’s worth it just for the beautiful, delicate fronds.

    • Thanks, Suzanne! I don’t remember every post I’ve published until I go looking sometimes.

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