5 Non-Lettuce Salad Recipes for When You Run Out of Greens

Pantry salad, anyone?

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Rachel Ray's Chickpea Salad

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

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You know that feeling when you're trying to eat healthier, so you plan to make a salad only to find that you're out of romaine? Been there — more often than not these days. Instead of giving up and reaching for more snacks, soup or yet another boxed meal, think of this as an opportunity to get creative. The thing about salad is that it's not really about the lettuce. Lettuce (or whatever greens you choose) are merely a vehicle for all the mix-ins and dressing, which is what we all really want, right?

If you find yourself out of fresh greens in your crisper drawer, this is not the time to make a last-minute run to the grocery store. Hearty grains, beans and even pasta can serve as the base of your salad. Mix them with sturdy vegetables like cabbage, celery, onions and whatever else is left from that farm box you ordered two weeks ago. Top it with all the add-ons you like: cheese, dried fruit, seeds or nuts. And finish it up with your favorite dressing.

Not sure where to start? Here are five lettuce-free salad ideas to get you going.

Did you buy too many beans? We've been there. If you can't eat anymore homemade hummus, how about a bean-based salad? Rachael Ray's Chickpea Salad (pictured above) is packed with crunchy vegetables and is ideal for enjoying solo or on top of toast.

Quinoa is a fluffy and highly-nutritious base for your classic Asian chicken salad. You can make this bowl with many of the leftover ingredients you might have in your fridge. Crunchy cabbage, which lasts longer than your regular lettuce, is a solid substitute for any greens you think you might be missing out on here. Matchstick carrots and snap peas add some additional color. We recommend doubling this soy sauce-based dressing since you'll want to make this salad again and again.

Skip the greens altogether for this grain-based version of the classic Waldorf Salad. Celery leaves act as the greens here — there are sliced celery stalks in this salad, too. Farro is a sturdy enough grain to hold up to the creamy dressing this salad calls for. Yes, even with creamy dressing, this salad is still healthy!

We love grilled veggies because they can be enjoyed hot or cold and in a variety of dishes. Bobby Flay uses grilled asparagus, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes in this couscous-based salad that screams summer. Israeli couscous is a larger pearled variety that maintains some bite even when cooked. Dress it with a simple vinaigrette and enjoy.

Giada De Laurentiis' Orzo Salad, as seen on Food Network's Everyday Italian, Season 1

Photo by: Kate Mathis

Kate Mathis

Pasta salad, anyone? Giada De Laurentiis's Orzo Salad is tossed with good-for-you ingredients like chickpeas, tomatoes and fresh herbs (this is a good way to use those up). Make a classic red wine vinaigrette for the dressing and your salad is ready to enjoy.

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