"Lettuce" Talk About Salads

In recent news, Romaine lettuce has been recalled, yet again, because of its link to E. coli outbreaks. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get concerned. I mean, why does this keep happening? Romaine lettuce has never been a favorite of mine, but I know that many people prefer it over other types of lettuce and leafy greens for salads. Since there have been so many recalls on this crowd favorite, I’m beginning to be wary of all leafy greens.

Salads are one of my favorite things to eat when I need something healthy to put into my body after grazing on burgers for several days in a row. When the lettuce was first recalled, I stopped eating salads in fear of contracting E. coli. I know I could eat other kinds of vegetables but it wasn’t the same as having a salad in my eyes – picky, I know – so I set about to find recipes on how to make lettuce-less salads. After testing and researching different salads, I wanted to share with you some notable lettuce-less salads.

 

Quinoa Salads

Quinoa is becoming popular in the food world. I’ve seen it used as a substitute for grains such as rice. It has a bit of a weird texture (see: seedy) but is actually pretty good. I found a lot of recipes that used quinoa as a base for salad instead of lettuce. There are several ways to top quinoa, and it is all up to you.

If you like the taste of the Mediterranean, top your quinoa with any combination of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers, olives, feta cheese and chicken (or any protein). For dressing, I mixed olive oil and red wine vinegar with a dash of oregano. Toss that all together and enjoy! This was my favorite quinoa mix out of the few that I tried.

Pasta Salads

I love pasta dishes! There are so many to choose from and they’re all customizable to fit your preferences. I especially love that pasta salads come prepackaged with the dry pasta and dressing mix. It’s really easy to make and has a variety of flavors to choose from.

The classic pasta salad mix is the best, IMO. I usually don’t dress it up in terms of add-ins since the noodles in the oil-based sauce is satisfying enough. The boxes usually have recipes you can follow if you do want to add in other flavors. When I want flavor or added texture, I cut up tomatoes and cucumbers and let them marinate with the noodles in the sauce overnight. To add protein, I fry up some SPAM and add that in when I’m ready to eat. I’ve also heard of people cutting up slices of ham and letting that sit in the salad mixture so that it’s more flavorful.

Spinach Salad

Now, I know I said I’ve been avoiding leafy greens but spinach is the exception. In general, I don’t like lettuce of any variety and opt to substitute spinach in whenever I can.

Spinach salads function just like a normal salad. Use whatever add-ins that you’d like! The salad bar at UNC has a pretty good variety, so I like to make mine as close to a Cobb salad as possible. Eggs, bacon bits, tomatoes, cucumbers and shredded cheese go on top of my salad. Then I spice it up a bit. I throw in some olives, banana peppers and craisins (cranberry raisins) for more taste. Keeping it old school, I dress my salad with some ranch. Easy and fulfilling.

Miscellaneous Salads

Have you ever seen the salads where it looks like a bunch of salad toppings mixed together? Okay, well, since I don’t know what those types of salads are called and all of my Google searchings proved to be fruitless, I’ve labeled them as Miscellaneous salads! This subsection of salads is interesting because there is so much you can do. The possibilities are endless!

My go-to miscellaneous salad is simple: chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil and oregano. It’s easy, fresh, healthy, everything a salad should be.

 

All of these different types of lettuce-less salads allow us to be creative and explore the flavors that work well for our taste palate. It makes eating healthy fun and interesting again. I struggle a lot with eating healthy because I don’t want to sacrifice flavor for healthier options. If I eat, I want my food to taste good, and that’s why I dislike lettuce so much; it doesn't taste good to me. Finding these recipes has allowed me to take control of my eating habits so that I’m getting the nutrition that I need without sacrificing the flavor that I want.